ALarge mobile operators, including Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Orange, have agreed to make their location data available to the EU Commission. Corporate representatives met with EU Industry Commissioner Thierry Breton. It should be anonymous and aggregated mass data that only allow conclusions to be drawn about large movements. Scientists from the EU Commission are to use it to develop algorithms for analyzing the pandemic so that the spread of the corona virus can be better predicted.
The German Association of Journalists expressed concern about the agreement. “It is definitely problematic when electronic communication data and movement profiles are evaluated by journalists,” said Frank Überall, President of the DJV. The fight against pandemics already brings with it a far-reaching restriction on the fundamental rights of all citizens: “This cannot go on indefinitely.”
Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn has meanwhile renewed his proposal to use cell phone data and digital information in order to be able to quickly understand infection chains. He said that the health authorities would reach their limits if, as at present, they had to use telephone calls to find the contact persons of a person infected with the virus: “Without contact tracking, it will not work.” So far, Spahn has come up with the idea that individual cell phone data can be used to identify contact persons and To use movement profiles, also in the coalition on resistance. He had to delete a corresponding passage in the Infection Protection Act, which he wanted to submit to the Bundestag for decision.
Slovakia tracks infected people
The data that Deutsche Telekom has provided to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) since last week is – like the data that the EU is to receive – mass data from the evaluation of radio masts. It is not possible to track individual people, it is only possible to track rough movements. The RKI thus wants to examine the effectiveness of the Federal Government’s measures to limit social contacts. According to media reports, this is already being done in Italy, the EU’s worst affected by the pandemic.
Slovakia has gone the furthest in Europe so far: Conservative Igor Matovicon’s four-party coalition, which has only been in office since Saturday, passed an amendment to the law which gave the state access to the state in an extraordinary rapid procedure on Wednesday with 91 votes to 43 votes against otherwise protected citizens’ cell phone data allowed. The state health authority will be able to use the cell phone location data to track where the people infected with the coronavirus are and who they are meeting with.
Many Asian countries also use the latest technologies when evaluating personal data. The Chinese technology giants Alibaba and Tencent have developed cell phone applications that evaluate the risk of infection with the virus on the basis of movement and interaction profiles and display them in color. In several cities, people have to identify themselves with this app in order to be able to use public transport, for example. In Singapore and South Korea, the evaluation of location data was used to enforce curfews.
What the The European Commission is now planning, but has nothing to do with what has been done in these countries, an EU representative assured. “It is in no way an attempt to understand the movement of people individually.” The procedure is also in line with the European rules for the protection of personal data.