NSO Group offers geolocation data analytics tools to identify potentially infected individuals
The Israeli compnay NSO Group, best known for the spyware it sells governments and has been used to target journalists and advocates, says it has developed a product aimed at analysing data to map people’s movements to identify who they’ve come in contact with, which can then be used to stop the spread of infection. About a dozen countries are reportedly testing the NSO technology, which takes two weeks' worth of mobile phone tracking information from the infected person, which it then matches with location data collected by national mobile phone companies, enabling it to pinpoint citizens who were in the patient’s vicinity for more than 15 minutes and are vulnerable to contagion. The software is being tested at the same time as Israel has approved repurposing a tracking technology developed by its Shin Bet security agency to combat terrorism for retracing the movements of coronavirus patients and their contacts. The software sends an alert text to the phone of any possible sources of contagion it detects; citizens who test positive are asked to give permission for officials to correlate their SIM cards to their identities. Critics complain it constitutes an invasion of Israeli citizens' privacy; however, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the technology would help locate patients and stop the virus's spread, and promised it would be strictly overseen to ensure it would not be abused.