Google Might Track People To Slow Spread of Virus: Do You Believe Their Privacy Claims?

Alphabet’s Google is looking at different ways it can use location services to slow the spread of covid-19.

A Google representative said:

“This work would follow our stringent privacy protocols and would not involve sharing data about any individual’s location, movement, or contacts.”

The statement wasn’t totally convincing.

In a letter to Michael Kratsios, the White House’s chief technology officer, Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) cited a Washington Post report that said the government had discussions with Inc, Apple Inc , Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google, IBM Corp and other tech companies to discuss potentially using smartphone location data as a research tool as the virus spreads in the United States.

Concerned, Markey wrote:

“We need assurances that collection and processing of these types of information, even if aggregated and anonymized, do not pose safety and privacy risks to individuals.”

He asked the government to describe how the data would be collected, anonymized and stored, who would have access to it and which companies were involved in the effort.

The problem is, even if they told us, “No, your information won’t be stored and potentially shared,”  who would believe them?

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