Health agency spied on millions during Covid lockdowns — Analysis
Canada’s Public Health Agency has admitted to secretly tracking location data from at least 33 million mobile devices to analyze people’s movements during Covid-19 lockdowns.
This agency collected geolocation data from cell towers earlier in the year. “due to the urgency of the pandemic,” a PHAC spokesperson told the National Post, essentially confirming a report by Blacklock’s Reporter. According to PHAC spokespersons, the tracking data were used only for evaluation of lockdown effectiveness and identification of possible connections between movement and Covid-19.
The information was obtained by PHAC. “de-identified and aggregated,”Canadian giant Telus, a telecommunications company, was obtained through an outside contractor. The contract was valid from October to March and PHAC claimed that the company no longer has access to the data.
However, the agency intends to track similar movements of citizens in the coming five years towards such goals as improving mental health and preventing other diseases from spreading. Last week, PHAC published a notice to potential contractors asking for anonymous mobile data that dates back at least January 2019 through May 2023.
Critics claimed that surveillance by the government on citizens was likely to be much more than what has been disclosed and will become increasingly problematic over time.
“I think that the Canadian public will find out about many other such unauthorized surveillance initiatives before the pandemic is over—and afterwards,”David Lyon, privacy advocate, spoke to the Post. He added that “de-identified”It is easy to access data “re-identified.”
Julius Reuchel, author of the tracking program, said that it smacks like a spying state on citizens “for your safety.”Paul Alves is another author. saidPHAC has been informed that it will be able to access all location data via its new contract. However, PHAC expressed concern that this could lead to a loss of privacy. “contact tracing will no longer require permission or a warrant.”
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