Now that the number of COVID-19 cases exceeds 5,000 in the United States, the Donald Trump Government is in negotiations with technological giants such as Google and Facebook, and with experts in the health field to develop a plan to curb the spread of the disease in the country.
According to internal sources to which The Washington Post had access, the plan involves using location data from smartphones to determine the likelihood of transmission in different regions in the United States. The data could also be used to understand whether the American population is, in fact, complying with quarantine or voluntary isolation standards.
Although the project may raise questions about the privacy of users, the sources say that the data collected will be aggregated and made anonymous, stressing that the information will not be used to follow the actions of certain individuals.
Google confirmed to the press that it is working in partnership with Donald Trump's Executive. We are developing a way to use aggregate and anonymous location information to combat COVID-19, said Johnny Luu, a company spokesman. One way to help health authorities determine the impact of isolation. Google also underlines that it does not share data about the location or contact details of a particular individual.
The news of the partnership between the US Government and the technological giants comes after Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, authorized the country's internal security agency to use data collected from the population's cell phones to fight the coronavirus.
In practice, the Israeli government wants to send a direct alert to individuals who are not respecting quarantine, ordering them to do so. Benjamin Netanyahu's executive believes that the measure can be efficient, since, by crossing the location of these data, it is possible to assess whoever was in contact with an infected person.
In early February, China launched the Close Contact Detector, an application that is able to monitor the number of infected patients and alert a user if he has been in close contact with a patient.
Created by the Government of Xi Jinping in partnership with the National Health Commission and China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, the application is based on data collected by the various surveillance systems in the country.