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COVID-19 Lockdown: Govt can legally track you through your cellphone

With at least 1,187 confirmed cases in the country, the health department said a total of 117 people cannot be located.

Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG – In a bid to locate and halt the spread of COVID-19, the government can legally use personal data from millions of cellphones to better understand the movements of South Africans during the coronavirus lockdown.

With at least 1,187 confirmed cases in the country, the health department said a total of 117 people cannot be located.

Information and communication analyst Arthur Goldstuck said using location history from mobile phones of confirmed cases can help track and trace the spread of the virus.

"A smartphone has to connect to a cellphone tower continually, and one can actually track from those connections is whether devices are moving. But generally, what you see from that data is that movement of devices and population."

While the issue raises privacy concerns, Goldstuck said the usage of data can reveal whether the public is abiding by lockdown rules.

Some countries have gone further including South Korea, Hong Kong, and Israel by using smartphone apps to monitor patients.

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