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29 Mar 2020

Saudi Arabia appears to be exploiting weaknesses in the global mobile telecoms network to track its citizens as they travel around the US, according to a whistleblower who has shown the Guardian millions of alleged secret tracking requests.

Data revealed by the whistleblower, who is seeking to expose vulnerabilities in a global messaging system called SS7, appears to suggest a systematic spying campaign by the kingdom, according to experts.

The data suggests that millions of secret tracking requests emanated from Saudi Arabia over a four-month period beginning in November 2019.

The tracking requests, which sought to establish the US location of Saudi–registered phones, appeared to originate from Saudi’s three biggest mobile phone companies.

The whistleblower said they were unable to find any legitimate reason for the high volume of the requests for location information. “There is no other explanation, no other technical reason to do this. Saudi Arabia is weaponising mobile technologies,” the whistleblower claimed. The data leaked by
24 Mar 2020
Estonia's Government Crisis Commission has instructed the state statistical office, Statistics Estonia, to use mobile geolocation data from companies such as Telia, Elisa, and Tele 2 in order to study people's movements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Statistics Estonia hoped to launch the
27 Mar 2020
Together with Norwegian company Simula the Norwegian Institute of Public Health is developping a voluntary app to track users geolocation and slow the spread of Covid-19. Running in the background, the app will collect GPS and Bluetooth location data and store them on a server for 30 days. If a user
19 Mar 2020
In response to a case brought by the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah), the Arab Joint List, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction on March 19 limiting the the state's and the Shin Bet security service's use of
17 Mar 2020
Aided by its small size, Singapore's contact tracing efforts were a key element of controlling the virus's spread; detectives used CCTV footage to locate the contacts of more than 6,000 people. Singapore also contacts individuals required to self-isolate several times a day and requires them to send
17 Mar 2020
Taiwan, linked by direct flights to Wuhan, moved to contain the virus as soon as reports of the Wuhan outbreak emerged. At the end of January, it suspended flights from China, and integrated its national health database with its immigration and customs information in order to trace potential cases
20 Mar 2020
The new Singaporean app, TraceTogether, developed by the Government Technology Agency in collaboration with the Ministry of Health was launched on March 20 after eight weeks of development. The app, which can be downloaded by anyone with a Singapore mobile number and a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone
23 Mar 2020
Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the country's Communications Ministry to develop a system, to be built on analysing specific individuals' geolocation data from telecommunications companies that can track people who have come into contact with those who have tested positive for
23 Mar 2020
Under a new protocol, international passengers arriving at Lime's Jorge Chavez International Airport or by ship at Callao Port, is referred to medical staff if they are arriving from places with confirmed cases, even if they are asymptomatic. Passengers who show symptoms in transit are transferred
24 Mar 2020
After Pakistani residents queried whether messages labelled "CoronaALERT" sent out via SMS were legitimate, telecom authorities confirmed that it was authentic, being sent to selected individuals at the request of the Ministry of Health under the Digital Parkistan programme. Individuals were chosen
21 Mar 2020
Technology such as Hong Kong's electronic monitoring bracelets, used to ensure that people do not break their mandated quarantine, is sensible during a pandemic, but could be problematic if deployed widely and used to identify those who have joined anti-government protests. The same applies to
22 Mar 2020
The Greek government issued a ban on all unnecessary traffic from March 23 to April 6 in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Anyone moving around under one of the list of exceptions must carry a police identity card or passport and a certificate of movement, which citizens obtain by filling
17 Mar 2020
At the MIT Media lab, Ramesh Raskar is leading a team that includes software engineers at companies such as Facebook and Uber to develop the free and open source app Private Kit: Safe Paths. The app is intended to share encrypted information between phones in the network without going through a
22 Mar 2020
After Asian countries used mass surveillance of smartphones to trace contacts and halt the spread of the coronavirus, Western countries such as the UK and Germany are trying to find less-invasive ways to use phones to collect and share data about infections that would work within data privacy laws
19 Mar 2020
Facebook's scientists are analysing location data about compliance with social distancing recommendations in various countries using information from a private vault of location information its apps have collected. The analysis shows that only "very modest" changes in habits in the US, France, and
23 Mar 2020
Because tracking and limiting the movement of those suspected to be carrying COVID-19 carriers has been a factor in flattening the exponential curve of cases in places like Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, Professor Marylouise McLaws, a technical advisor to the WHO's Infection Prevention and