Austria: Telco A1 gives government location data to test movement restrictions


The Austrian telecom operator A1 has voluntarily provided the government with "anonymized" location data of its customers for the first two Saturdays in March. The data shows that citizens have significantly reduced their social contacts. After critics expressed privacy concerns, the company issued a statement saying that: the movement profiles have been available for some time in a collaborative projects with a spinoff from the Graz University of Technology; no conclusions can be drawn about individuals or small groups because the data can only be analysed in groups of 20; and each cell phone is assigned an automatically-generated random number for tracking, which is freshly assigned every 24 hours; and the analyses A1 generates are provided to government agencies in times of crisis for the benefit of the general public, which it feels the current crisis justifies. The data protection NGO wants to take a closer look at how the data is anonymised and passed on, while opposition political parties are asking questions in parliament and arguing that the project interferes with fundamental civil liberties.