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10 Apr 2020
In a sharp drop from the beginning of Canada's lockdown, after two months only one in six Canadians left their home on weekends compared to one in three at the beginning. The marketing company Environics Analytics compiled the report by analysing a database of anonymised location data from 2.3
24 Mar 2020
A BBC article captures the story of a student living in Taiwan under quarantine, who reports that when his battery on his phone ran out, within an hour four different local administrative units contacted him; and a patrol was dispatched to verify his location; and a text was sent that the government
05 Apr 2020
On request, Vodafone Australia, which has 6 million subscribers nationwide, handed the mobile phone location data of several million Australians to the federal and New South Wales governments to help them monitor whether people are following the social distancing restrictions. The governments
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
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
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
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
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
25 Mar 2020
According to information collected by Le Temps, telco Swisscom will use SIM card geolocation data to communicate to federal authorities when more than 20 phones are detected in an 100 square meters area. Gathering of more than 5 people are forbidden in Switzerland since March 21. Data collected by
12 Mar 2020
The Belgian Minister of Public Health has approved a programme under which telephone companies Proximus and Telenet will transfer some of their their data to the private third-party company Dalberg Data Insights in order to help combat the coronavirus epidemic; Orange has also agreed "in principle"
19 Mar 2020
Researchers at the University of Oxford are working with the UK government on an app similar to the smartphone tracking system China developed to alert people who have come in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. The British app, which would be associated with the country's National
17 Mar 2020
The Ecuadorian government has authorised tracking mobile phones via GPS satellite to ensure that citizens do not break mandatory quarantine after six violators were identified. Source: https://www.ecuadortv.ec/noticias/covid-19/romo-vigilancia-epidemiologico-covid19-? Writer: Ecuador TV Publication
20 Mar 2020
Among the Chinese companies making efforts to help the country respond to the coronavirus are the technology giants Alibaba, Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent, Xiaomi, and Foxconn. In order to fight misinformation, Baidu created a map layer on top of its standard Map App that shows real-time locations of
19 Mar 2020
The Polish government has developed the free Home Quarantine app for both iPhone and Android, which allows the police to check that individuals do not break quarantine; those who do may be fined up to PLN 5,000 and also offers support to those who are quarantined. Once users activate the app by
06 Feb 2020
A phone-tracking system used by SAPOL for criminal investigations was used to better understand where a coronavirus-infected 60-year-old couple, who had travelled from Wuhan to visit relatives, roamed in Adelaide in order to identify people who might have been exposed, according to the South
19 Mar 2020
Hakob Arshakyan, Armenia's minister of the high technology industry, has convened a research group comprising experts in IT and AI has been convened to collect and analyse data on the spread of coronavirus, compare it with the data collected by international partners, and develop forecasts. The
19 Mar 2020
Mobile network operator O2 is providing aggregated data to the UK government to analyse anonymous smartphone location data in order to show people are following the country's social distancing guidelines, particularly in London, which to date accounts for about 40% of the UK's confirmed cases and 30
19 Mar 2020
BT, owner of UK mobile operator EE, is in talks with the government about using its phone location and usage data to monitor whether coronavirus limitation measures such as asking the public to stay at home are working. The information EE supplies would be delayed by 12 to 24 hours, and would
15 Mar 2020
US government agencies are considering a range of tracking and surveillance technologies as part of efforts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. These include: geolocation tracking and facial recognition systems to analyse photos, both to enable contact tracing. Palantir is working with
06 Mar 2020
The "safety guidance texts" sent by health authorities and district offices in South Korea are causing information overload and have included embarrassing revelations about infected people's private lives. A text may include, for example, a link to trace the movements of people who have recently
18 Mar 2020
After Singapore’s Ministry of Health made information about victims public, and a developer turned the information into an interactive map. The map was discontinued on March 18 because the volume of cases had outstripped the developer's limits. Source: https://sgwuhan.xose.net/
17 Mar 2020
The German mobile operator Deutsche Telekom announced in a press conference on RKI Live that it had passed on, anonymised, its users' movement data to the Robert-Koch Institute to study the extent to which the population would follow the government's restrictions. RKI president Lothar Wieler said
11 Mar 2020
A Hamburg geotracking startup called Ubilabs is working with the Hannover School of Medicine on a data analysis platform that could track people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and their contacts, Der Tagesspiegel reported on Tuesday; this type of tracking would require individuals'
17 Mar 2020
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
17 Mar 2020
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
18 Mar 2020
In a statement, Vodafone said it is "producing an aggregated and anonymous heat map for the Lombardy region in Italy to help the authorities to better understand population movements in order to help thwart the spread of COVID-19." The company offered to help governments develop insights based on
17 Mar 2020
Ministers have permitted the Shin Bet security service to "use the cellular phone data of carriers of the disease to retrace their steps and identify anyone they may have infected", and will relay the information to the Health Ministry, which will send a message to those who were within two meters
17 Mar 2020
A task force at the Italian Ministry of Innovation, in collaboration with the University of Pavia to leverage big data technologies to deal with COVID-19, after the WHO advised governments that lockdowns alone are not enough, and that testing, isolation, and contact tracing are crucial. The effort
17 Mar 2020
A task force at the Italian Ministry of Innovation, in collaboration with the University of Pavia to leverage big data technologies to deal with COVID-19, after the WHO advised governments that lockdowns alone are not enough, and that testing, isolation, and contact tracing are crucial. The effort
31 Jan 2019
In late 2018, researchers at SINTEF Digital Norway, ETH Zurich, and Berlin's Technical University discovered a new and serious vulnerability in several generations of the cellular mobile communications protocols: 3G, 4G, and the upcoming 5G. The flaw affected Authentication and Key Agreement, which
08 Jan 2019
It was already known that law enforcement agencies can track phones to within 500 metres if they show service providers a warrant, but in January 2019, it became clear that the same real-time location data was being sold to a wide range of third parties, including car salesmen, property managers
In January 2019, the security researcher Justin Paine discovered that the California-based voice over IP provider Voipo had left exposed an unprotected database containing tens of gigabytes of call logs, other internal documents, and customer text messages, including password resets and two-factor
15 Nov 2018
In November 2018, a security researcher found that the location-tracking children's watch MiSafe's Kid Watcher Plus, originally released in 2015, neither encrypted nor secured the children's accounts, allowing him to track their movements, secretly listen in to their activities, and spoof calls to
07 Feb 2019
In February 2019, publicity led the gay dating app Jack'd, which claimed to have more than 5 million users and was ranked among the top four gay social apps on both Apple and Android, to close a security flaw that meant that photos users uploaded to share in private chat sessions were accessible to
10 Apr 2019
An investigation by Bloomberg, disclosed that thousands of Amazon employees around the world are listening in on Amazon Echo users.
14 Nov 2018
In yet another murder case, a New Hampshire judge ordered Amazon to turn over two days of Amazon Echo recordings in a double murder case in November 2018. Prosecutors believe that recordings from an Amazon Echo in the Farmington home where two women were murdered in January 2017 may yield further
02 Dec 2017
In 2015, James Bates (of Arkansas, United States) was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Victor Collins. Collins was found floating face down in Bates’ hot tub in November 2015, police said. Amazon Echo entered the murder case because someone present on the night of Collins’ death
14 Aug 2018
Semi-autonomous cars with built-in internet connections are increasingly being delivered with location tracking in place. Marketed as a convenience, the app FordPass links to Ford's Sync Infotainment system and can log frequent and recently visited locations. Similarly, GM Onstar's Family Link
14 Sep 2018
In September 2018, Google was discovered to be prototyping a search engine, codenamed Dragonfly, designed to comply with China's censorship regime. Among other features, Dragonfly would tie users' searches to their personal phone numbers, ensuring the government could track their queries. Among the
08 Jul 2018
In July 2018, members of the Internal Security Organisation, Uganda's counterintelligence agency, raided South African telecommunications provider MTN's Uganda data centre in Mutundwe. In a letter to the police, MTN said the ISO kidnapped a data manager who worked for the contractor that ran the
08 Mar 2018
In March 2018, Trever Feden, the CEO of a property management startup, exposed a flaw in the gay-dating app Grindr that opened access to the location data and other information about its more than 3 million daily users. A website Faden set up allowed Grindr users to see who was blocking them after
01 Sep 2018
In September 2018, security researcher Patrick Wardle found that Adware Doctor, the top-selling paid utilities app in the US Mac App Store, was exfiltrating the browser history of anyone who downloaded it and sending it to a developer. Adware Doctor is intended to protect browsers against adware. A
18 Jul 2018
In July 2018, Dutch researcher Foeke Postma discovered that Polar, the manufacturer of the world's first wireless heart rate monitor manufacturer, was exposing the heart rates, routes, dates, times, duration, and pace of exercises performed by individuals at military sites and at their homes via its
12 Jun 2018
In June 2018, Uber filed a US patent application for technology intended to help the company identify drunk riders by comparing data from new ride requests to past requests made by the same user. Conclusions drawn from data such as the number of typos or the angle at which the rider is holding the
20 Apr 2018
In April 2018, the Austrian cabinet agreed on legislation that required asylum seekers would be forced to hand over their mobile devices to allow authorities to check their identities and origins. If they have been found to have entered another EU country first, under the Dublin regulation, they can
29 May 2018
In 2018, a Duke University medical doctor who worked with Microsoft researchers to analyse millions of Bing user searches found links between some computer users' physical behaviours - tremors while using a mouse, repeated queries, and average scrolling speed - and Parkinson's disease. The hope was
25 May 2018
In 2018, the digital marketing company Tell All Digital began marketing technology to personal injury law firms to enable them to send mobile ads to patients they know are waiting for treatment in an emergency room and for up to a month afterwards. The technology relies on geofencing, a technique
30 Mar 2018
Users downloading their Facebook histories have been startled to find that the company has been collecting call and SMS data. The company has responded by saying users are in control of what's uploaded to Facebook. However, the company also says it's a widely used practice when users first sign in
The CEO of MoviePass, an app that charges users $10 a month in return for allowing them to watch a movie every day in any of the 90% of US theatres included in its programme, said in March 2018 that the company was exploring the idea of monetising the location data it collects. MoviePass was always
In 2015, the University of Arizona began tracking freshman students’ ID card swipes as part of a project to try to lower the rate at which students drop out or leave for another university. The cards, which include an embedded sensor and are given to all students, can be read at almost 700 locations
The Danish company Blip Systems deploys sensors in cities, airports, and railway stations to help understand and analyse traffic flows and improve planning. In the UK's city of Portsmouth, a network of BlipTrack sensors was installed in 2013 by VAR Smart CCTV, and the data it has collected is used
LinkNYC, a system of 1,000 public wifi kiosks across all five boroughs of New City administered by the private consortium CityBridge, offers free high-speed wifi, phone calls, a charging station for mobile devices, and a built-in tablet to access a variety of city services. Announced by the mayor's
23 Feb 2018
A former Facebook insider explains to Wired Magazine why it's almost certain that the Trump campaign's skill using the site's internal advertising infrastructure was more important in the 2016 US presidential election than Russia's troll farm was. The first was the ads auction; the second a little
The story began with the free Bylock messaging app, which was used between 2014 and 2016 and which the Turkish government associated with treason and followers of Fethullah Gülen, the group they believe was behind the attempted 2016 coup. The app was downloaded roughly half a million times and had
15 Jan 2018
Modern vehicles are networks of sophisticated computers on wheels that can collect more intimate data about ourselves and our lives than smartphones do. The agreements covering nearly every new vehicle that is leased or sold in the US often now include a clause permitting the manufacturer to monitor
14 Jan 2018
Police investigating the 2016 rape and murder of a 19-year-old medical student were unable to search the iPhone of suspect Hussein Khavari, an Afghan refugee who declined to give them his password. The investigators gained access to the phone via a private company in Munich, and went through Apple's
02 Jun 2010
In 2010, Apple's then-CEO Steve Jobs revealed that the reason his company changed the rules in the written agreement it requires iPhone app developers to sign was due to a report published by the vice-president of the app analytics company Flurry, Peter Farago. In one of its monthly reports on app
29 Jan 2018
In November 2017, San Francisco-based Strava, maker of a GPS-enabled fitness app, published a heat map showing the activity of all its 27 million users around the world. Upon outside examination, the data visualisation, which was built from 1 billion activities and 3 trillion data points covering 27
11 Jan 2018
As of early 2018, Facebook's friends recommendations (People You May Know) are based on the address books users give them. However, Facebook has been filing patent applications for a new generation of technologies for collecting more information about its users and matching them more accurately. One
02 Jan 2018
In a letter accompanying his annual report to the Prime Minister for 2017, the British Interception of Communications Commissioner, Stanley Burnton, has expressed concern about the increasingly unacceptable number of errors police are making in resolving Internet Protocol addresses. Because of the
Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet (Google's owner), has signed a deal with the Canadian city of Toronto to redevelop the brownfield Quayside waterfront district and turn it into a technology hub. The deal raises three sets of issues. First (The Guardian) is the essential privatisation of
25 Nov 2017
A recent study from the Yale Privacy lab and Exodus Privacy founds dozens of invasive trackers hidden in common Android apps. However, the method the researchers used, which involved writing code to expose the internal workings of the devices they tested, is legally barred under the US Digital
Among the friends Facebook recommended to Kashmir Hill as people she might know was Rebecca Porter, to the best of her knowledge a total stranger. Because Hill was studying how the "black box" of Facebook recommendations worked, she contacted Porter to ask what the connection might be. To her
14 Nov 2017
The UK consumer watchdog Which? has called on retailers to stop selling popular connected toys it says have proven security issues. These include Hasbro's Furby Connect, Vivid Imagination's I-Que robot, and Spiral Toys' Cloudpets and Toy-fi Teddy. In its report, Which? found that these toys do not
The Dutch data protection authority has found that Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system breaches Dutch law by processing personal data of the system's users without informing them clearly about what type of data the company uses and for what purpose. In addition, users cannot give valid consent
15 Nov 2016
In 2015, security contractors at Kryptowire discovered that some cheap Android phones came with pre-installed software that monitors where users go, whom they communicate with and the contents of the text messages they write. Written by the China-based company Shanghai Adups Technology Company, the
25 Dec 2015
In 2015, the Royal Parks conducted a covert study of visitors to London's Hyde Park using anonymised mobile phone signals provided by the network operator EE to analyse footfall. During the study, which was conducted via government-funded Future Cities Catapult, the Royal Parks also had access to
20 May 2016
In 2016, Nguyen Phong Hoang, a security researcher in Kyoto, Japan demonstrated that the location of users of gay dating apps such as Grindr, Hornet, and Jack'd can be pinpointed even when they have turned on features intended to obscure it - a dangerous problem for those have not come out publicly
30 Nov 2015
A 2015 study carried out in Rwanda and published in the journal Science used mobile phone records to study the distribution of wealth and poverty in an attempt to fill in the gap left by the difficulty of collecting accurate statistics. A rought idea of geographic location was derived from
30 Nov 2015
In 2015, a small number of Silicon Valley start-ups began experimenting with assessing prospective borrowers in developing countries such as Kenya by inspecting their smartphones. Doing so, they claimed, enabled them to charge less in interest than more traditional microlenders, since many of their
28 Jun 2016
In 2016, Facebook gave conflicting accounts of whether the service uses location data in order to recommend prospective Friends in its "People You May Know" feature. When the company first admitted - for publication - that location data was indeed one of the signals it used, many users felt this
05 Apr 2015
Because banks often decline to give loans to those whose "thin" credit histories make it hard to assess the associated risk, in 2015 some financial technology startups began looking at the possibility of instead performing such assessments by using metadata collected by mobile phones or logged from
03 Mar 2016
In 2016, a group of criminologists intend on identifying the famous graffiti artist Banksy used a forensic technique known as geographical profiling. The technique is more commonly used to identify potential suspects in cases of serial rape, arson, and murder, and works by mapping crimes to see if
27 Apr 2011
As GPS began being increasingly incorporated into smartphones, satnav manufacturers like the Dutch company TomTom were forced to search for new revenue streams. In 2011, TomTom was forced to apologise when the Dutch newspaper AD reported that the company had sold driving data collected from
20 May 2016
Uber has closely studied how dynamic pricing functions and when it's acceptable to users. One discovery is that round numbers signal haste and sloppiness where riders appear to believe that more precise numbers (for example, 2.1 instead of 2) have been carefully worked out by an algorithm. The
A new examination of documents detailing the US National Security Agency's SKYNET programme shows that SKYNET carries out mass surveillance of Pakistan's mobile phone network and then uses a machine learning algorithm to score each of its 55 million users to rate their likelihood of being a