Vodafone, DT, Orange and others share mobile location data

Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, Orange and five other telecom operators will share mobile phone location data with the European Commission to track the spread of the coronavirus, GSMA said on Wednesday.
Coronavirus ChinaThe companies, including Telefonica, Telecom Italia , Telenor, Telia and A1 Telekom Austria met with EU industry chief Thierry Breton on Monday.

Worries about governments’ use of technology to monitor those in quarantine and track infections have intensified in recent weeks over possible privacy violations, with some raising the spectre of state surveillance.

The Commission will use anonymised data to protect privacy and aggregate mobile phone location data to coordinate measures tracking the spread of the virus. The data will be deleted once the crisis is over. EU plan is not about centralising mobile data nor about policing people.

While anonymised data falls outside the scope of EU data protection laws, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said the project does not breach privacy rules as long as there are safeguards.

“The Commission should clearly define the dataset it wants to obtain and ensure transparency towards the public, to avoid any possible misunderstandings,” the EU’s data watchdog said in a letter to the EU executive seen by Reuters.

Countries from Singapore to Taiwan and Israel are using various methods such as contact-tracing smartphone apps, a mobile phone-based “electronic fence”, satellite-based phone tracking and location-tracking wristbands to fight the spread of the virus.