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USA debate with technology to use smartphone data to curb coronavirus


The United States is holding meetings with Facebook, Google, and other technology companies to evaluate the use of location data from smartphones to combat the pandemic.

Stop the spread of the new
        
        
coronavirus

        

 SARS-CoV-2 has become one of the main challenges in countries such as Italy, Spain or the United States. While they close stores, classrooms, and borders and establish distancing measures, they also

They look for an ally in technology to stop infections

. The government of

U.S

is holding meetings

with Facebook, Google and other technology companies

and with health experts.

Discuss how to use location data

of the
        
        
smartphones

        

 of United States citizens to

combat the pandemic

,

according to The Washington Post

. With this information, they plan to help epidemiologists to

spot trends

,

map the spread of infection

and check whether people maintain the established safety distances from each other.

This collaboration between Washington and Silicon Valley reflects the urgency to stop the outbreak from expanding. The pandemic has already spread for at least 140 countries and affects about 200,000 people. The government of
        
        
Donald trump

        

 He is especially interested in understanding the movement patterns of the United States. to better manage resources, according to the same media, citing executives from
        
        
Facebook

        

 . For example, to find out if there are overcrowded health centers where more resources must be dedicated.

The project, which is still in an initial stage, will collect user data anonymously and in aggregate. The intention of the US government It is not compiling a database of Americans' daily whereabouts, sources familiar with the project insist The Washington Post.

Still, how it is finally implemented can spark debates around the
        
        
Privacy

        

 . "The balance between privacy and the pandemic policy is a delicate one," Al Gidari, director of privacy for the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford University School of Law, tweeted last week. "The problem here is that this is not a law school exam. The technology can save lives, but if implementation unreasonably threatens privacy, more lives may be at risk," he explained.


Tim Cook of Apple, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Jeff Bezos of Amazon during a meeting with President Donald Trump in 2017

Tim Cook of Apple, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Jeff Bezos of Amazon during a meeting with President Donald Trump in 2017

For Borja Adsuara, an expert lawyer in digital law, the use of location data in this case is fully justified, since "there is an essential public interest to combat the pandemic." "No one wants to say anything because it is a tab issue. If you tell someone that you are going to use their data even if it is only for one thing, there will be many people who refuse. But there comes a time when the general interest is more important than the particular, "he says.

With the health alert unleashed by the spread of the coronavirus, "public health is tackling a very serious issue": "Of course, in this case they can use specially protected data because there is a higher good and of general interest, which is precisely public health What they have to do is do it with the due guarantees of security and pseudonymisation. And they must guarantee that they will only use that data for what is strictly necessary. " The lawyer, who questions whether anonymised data can really be useful, explains that the debate should be on how far the data can be crossed to control the pandemic.

Access to location


Google is already working on its own to take advantage of its users' data to combat the coronavirus

Google is already working on its own to take advantage of its users' data to combat the coronavirus

Tech giants always collect information about where some of their users are. "Both telephone companies and companies like Facebook or
        
        
Google

        

 they can know where we are. It depends on the permits that we have accepted on the mobile, but there are technologies that even access this information many times without our consent, "explains Fernando Surez, president of the Council of Colleges of Computer Engineering (CCII) in Spain.

For him, this is a clear example of how technology can help improve crisis management: "It can serve to see how people move, where it is necessary to dedicate both health and public safety resources or how we can prevent infections" . And even to check if citizens respect the distancing measures. The location to which the technologies have access "is very precise." "Google Maps knows the exact point we are at. If we move, it also records it. And it even knows which side of the sidewalk you are on," he adds.

The Mountain View company, which is still considering whether to participate in the project, has claimed to be working on its own to take advantage of its users' data to combat the coronavirus. "We are exploring how anonymous and aggregated location information could help in the fight against Covid-19. An example could be helping health authorities determine the impact of social distancing, similar to how we show the popular restaurant hours and traffic patterns on Google Maps, "said spokesman Johnny Luu in a statement that includes the same medium. Such an association, Luu insists, "would not imply sharing data on the location, movement or contacts of any individual."

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. (tagsToTranslate) USA debate with technology companies to use smartphone data to curb the coronavirus – LA NACION