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Our phones can serve as a virus tool

25 1 2

NEW YORK – Almost everyone these days carries a device that tracks their movements and shares that information with an array of companies.

They may use it to offer everything from food deliveries and car rides to virtual monster hunts. It’s ironic, then, that we’re so reluctant to use the same capabilities to fight a pandemic that could kill millions of people.

Thanks to the location and personal data that we share with the likes of Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. via our mobile phones, the world’s population is currently under routine surveillance in a manner that would have made George Orwell blench.

That’s a source of justified disquiet at the best of times. As the new coronavirus was quietly beginning its spread through the population of Wuhan, China, in December and January, a series of New York Times articles outlined the staggering amount of data that we’ve given up to technology companies.

For all the talk of information being rendered anonymous, it’s trivially easy to crack someone’s identity by simple tricks like checking where they sleep each night and work during the day.

In the current crisis, it’s worth contemplating whether that’s more of an opportunity than a danger. We’re rightly concerned about surveillance when it’s done by a business or a government with........

© The Japan Times