According tomedia reports, European mobile operators are sharing data with health agencies in Italy, Germany and Austria to help combat the spread of the new coronavirus by monitoring people’s compliance with RULES restricting the movement of people while complying with EU privacy laws and regulations. Local mobile operators share anonymous aggregated data to help show user concentration and movement in the areas where the new coronavirus outbreak has broken out.
FILE PHOTO: A man uses his mobile phone to take a picture of a new coronavirus warning at the closed main gate of the administrative headquarters in Heinsberg, Germany, on February 26, 2020. The sign read, “The heinsberg administrative headquarters building remained closed on Wednesday due to a confirmed case of a new coronavirus.”
Universita Wieler, an expert in health, said German schools and restaurants were closed and people were told to stay at home as much as possible. The data provided by Deutsche Telekom help to understand whether people are complying with the rules.
“If people are still moving with each other like they did a week ago, it will be very difficult to control the spread of the virus,” Weizer, director of the Robert Koch Institute, said Wednesday.
Weizel added that Germany is entering a phase of exponential growth in the number of people infected with the new coronavirus. He warned that as many as 10 million people could be infected with the new coronavirus within two to three months if progress is not made in reducing human-to-human contact.
However, even in times of crisis, privacy advocates are skeptical about the suitability or usefulness of sharing customer data. One said that if people knew their phones were being tracked, they would leave them at home.
“I strongly question the value of sharing this customer information,” said Tabea Roessner, a member of the opposition Greenparty. “
In Italy, mobile operators Telecom Italia, Vodafone and WindTre are all providing the government with aggregated data to monitor people’s movements.
The Lombardy region of Lombardy, Italy, is using the data to see how many people comply with strict confinement orders. Data show that since the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus was detected in the Kodonio region on 21 February, the movement of people over 300 to 500 metres has decreased by about 60 per cent.
Nick Read, Vodafone’s chief executive, said: “Vodafone will be willing to help governments develop solutions through a large number of anonymous data sets as long as they are technically feasible and legally permissible. “
In the Austrian state of Tyrol, a new coronavirus has spread among local skiers. Austria imposed a blockade on the area, but the tourists spread the virus to central and northern Europe on their way home.
Austria’s largest mobile communications company, A1 Austrian Telecom Group, is sharing the flow of people through a motion analysis app developed by Invenium. Invenium is a spin-off subsidiary of Graz University of Technology in Austria.
FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a protective mask uses a mobile phone as the outbreak of a new coronavirus continues to intensify in northern Italy on February 27, 2020 in Turin, Italy.
The tool complies with the General Data Protection Regulation, the EU’s privacy regulation. The General Data Protection Regulations restrict the processing of sensitive personal data without the express consent of the user.
Michael Cik, co-founder of Invenium, says the company’s app can analyze how people affect traffic or how busy tourist attractions are, but its technology is also appropriate to assess the effectiveness of measures to reduce social or sports to curb the spread of the virus.
Max Schrems, an Austrian activist who has fought a series of lawsuits over Facebook’s privacy practices, is sceptical.
“As long as the data is properly anonymized, it’s obviously legal,” he said. “
“But to be honest, in Austria you just look out the window and you know people are staying at home. “