Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) complied with requests from federal and state governments to supply aggregated and anonymised subscriber location data to support efforts to combat the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus), The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported.

Data from a “few million” VHA customers were provided to the New South Wales Department of Customer Service and the national Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to enable them to monitor trends in people’s movements, the newspaper wrote.

The operator, with about 6 million subscribers, is the third-largest mobile player in the country.

Dan Lloyd, VHA director of corporate affairs, told SMH data indicating the number of subscribers in specific areas at different times are used to show changes in population movements before and after the lockdown.

For example, weekday populations in Sydney’s central business district were down 57 per cent in March 2020 compared with a year earlier.

Lloyd noted VHA was not paid for the information and no personal details were disclosed, the newspaper said.

Telstra and Optus have not issued statements regarding similar requests.

Governments are increasingly turning to mobile technology as they step-up efforts to ensure people comply with social distancing initiatives.

Last week, Google began using location data to compile reports highlighting movement trends in a host of public spaces, initially in 131 countries and regions.

And in Europe, the Pan-European Privacy-Preserving Proximity Tracing group unveiled plans to develop smartphone technology capable of tracking people who had been in contact with those infected with the virus.