Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, 6 different telcos to assist EU observe virus


BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and 5 different telecoms suppliers have agreed to share cell phone location information with the European Fee to trace the unfold of the coronavirus, lobbying group GSMA mentioned on Wednesday.

Folks stroll in an nearly empty By way of del Corso, as Italy tightens measures to attempt to comprise the unfold of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

The businesses, together with Telefonica, Telecom Italia , Telenor, Telia and A1 Telekom Austria met with EU business chief Thierry Breton on Monday.

Worries about governments’ use of know-how to observe these in quarantine and observe infections have intensified in current weeks over doable privateness violations, with some elevating the spectre of state surveillance.

The Fee will use anonymised information to guard privateness and mixture cell phone location information to coordinate measures monitoring the unfold of the virus, an EU official mentioned.

To additional assuage privateness issues, the info will likely be deleted as soon as the disaster is over, the official mentioned, including that the EU plan shouldn’t be about centralising cell information nor about policing folks.

Whereas anonymised information falls exterior the scope of EU information safety legal guidelines, the European Knowledge Safety Supervisor (EDPS) mentioned the venture doesn’t breach privateness guidelines so long as there are safeguards.

“The Fee ought to clearly outline the dataset it desires to acquire and guarantee transparency in the direction of the general public, to keep away from any doable misunderstandings,” the EU’s information watchdog mentioned in a letter to the EU govt seen by Reuters.

“It could even be preferable to restrict entry to the info to authorised consultants in spatial epidemiology, information safety and information science,” EDPS head Wojciech Wiewiorowski mentioned.

Nonetheless he additionally warned about the potential for such measures changing into everlasting.

“The EDPS typically stresses that such developments normally don’t comprise the likelihood to step again when the emergency is gone. I wish to stress that such answer must be nonetheless recognised as extraordinary,” Wiewiorowski mentioned.

International locations from Singapore to Taiwan and Israel are utilizing varied strategies resembling contact-tracing smartphone apps, a cell phone-based “digital fence”, satellite-based telephone monitoring and location-tracking wristbands to battle the unfold of the virus.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Modifying by Elaine Hardcastle


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