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Telcos share location data for coronavirus efforts

March 20, 2020, Global Data Review

Dan Cooper spoke with Global Data Review about how telecommunications companies are providing data regulators location data to track the effects of social distancing in the wake of coronavirus. Mr. Cooper told GDR that the measures in Europe are “not too much of a concern” from a privacy perspective as the data being used by authorities is anonymized and aggregated. But “it’s hard to say whether telcos have conducted rigorous anonymization assessments.”

If telcos started to share individual-level data, he says, greater restrictions would apply. “But if it’s a health authority requirement and as long as it’s done by order of a competent authority in the EU, it wouldn’t be problematic from a privacy perspective.”

Despite the unique situation, “you don’t want this to be the thin end of the wedge,” he says. If a mobile network company decided to unilaterally track individuals, “then that would be a problem on ePrivacy grounds, which restricts the processing of location data.”

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