Is WSDOH Using Cell Data to “Track” Travel During COVID?
This doesn't really have anything to do with those contact tracer (CT) updates everyone was talking about a while back, especially with i-Phones. This is different, because it involves phones where the person does NOT activate or use the specific CT programs.
This has to do with health departments using general cellphone data to determine travel of persons related to COVID-19 in WA state.
The website HumanRightsWatch reported May 13 that many states were pushing for or wanting to use cellphone data (GPS, locations, pinging etc) to determine the movements of large amounts of people in relation to COVID outbreaks and cases. HRW voiced strong concerns about the privacy of this idea when it comes to those COVID updates. Especially those who have tested positive and are identified via CT programs.
However, many health departments, including the Washington State Department of Health, (WSDOH) are and have been using what's called "mobile location data." This is a slightly less invasive method of measuring movements of people in relation to where COVID cases are found, or popping up. Cellphones leave 'maps' behind as they utilize GPS, location services and more. This data is stored and can be retrieved in mass quantities. Virtually everyone's cellphone leaves behind this data.
It's no secret law enforcement has used this tech for years to hunt down and locate criminals, or missing persons-lost. But it appears this data is being used to monitor large scale movements of persons in relation to COVID cases in WA.
According to the August 7 WSDOH report, officials say there are mixed trends in COVID activity, and attribute flattening of cases to use of masks and social distancing rather than activity. The report then says this:
"Recent changes in transmission rates don’t correlate to trends in cellphone mobility data, which plateaued starting in June."
Cellphone mobility data is the information obtained from cellphone carriers and providers at the bequest of the government. So, the WSDOH is using data from your carrier to determine large scale movements of WA residents.
Just letting you know.
To read the report for yourself, click on the button below.