The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) reached out to all states in India urging them to use tools developed to track and alert mobile subscribers to support the government’s Covid-19 (coronavirus) quarantine enforcement efforts, Hindustan Times reported.
Officials in many states are already using a mobile surveillance system which uses data collected from telecoms towers to monitor peoples’ movement, the newspaper said. A second tool allows officials to send SMS alerts to subscribers in specific areas. The service is available in all regional languages, with 26 million alerts sent out.
Use of the platform apparently is allowed under the country’s telegraph act, which permits interception of telecoms services under certain conditions such as a public emergency, and is authorised by the home secretary of each state, Hindustan Times wrote.
A government source told the newspaper that personal data of subscribers is not shared with the states, adding: “It is a non-intrusive way of checking if a person is within the tower area”.
Legal experts, however, warned that to legally use the surveillance platform the federal and state governments need to issue an order, noting the mass surveillance system is being used “without any clear legal authority or limits”, Hindustan Times explained.
Last week, Apple released a tool which uses data collected from Apple Maps to graph movement trends among residents in more than 60 countries, expanding its efforts to help combat the spread of the virus.
The release follows Apple and Google announcing plans to collaborate on the development of a Bluetooth-based contact tracing technology.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back