Telecom companies will share users’ location data with government to track users visiting hospitals

A new strategy to combat the pandemic will be implemented n the near future. According to instructors in a GDPR course, European Union member countries will begin to take the measures established by some Asian countries on mobile data sharing in order to track some cases of coronavirus, without detaching themselves from European data protection legislation.

A report by the GSMA lobbying group, telecommunications companies have decided to share user location data with European authorities. Companies that have decided to join this initiative include:

  • Vodafone
  • Deutsche Telekom
  • Orange
  • Telefonica
  • Telecom Italia

GDPR course specialists have pointed to the possibility of the government starting to use the technology to monitor the activities of quarantined users and track new coronavirus outbreaks, representing an increase in the activities of government surveillance.

In recent statements, a representative of the European Commission mentioned that user location data will be used to track users by moving to hospitals to identify some metrics about the spread of the virus. Furthermore, the Commission states that this information will be handled anonymously: “We do not seek to centralize user information or monitor people”, the Commission states.

It should be noted that anonymous data is not covered by the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), although the Commission ensures that these measures do not violate this legislation in any way, however, some clarifications need to be made: ” The Commission must clearly define what information it will be collecting, in addition to ensuring that this measure is applicable only until the pandemic passes,” the experts of the GDPR course consider.

The International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) considers that the main concern regarding this measure is the possibility that it will be implemented on a permanent basis, so this decision should not be abandoned.

Countries such as Singapore and Taiwan are using various methods to collect information on coronavirus outbreaks, with data centralization being the main one, although data protection legislation in these territories is less forceful or, in particular, multiple cases, non-existent.