By Iram Saleem
Will Pakistani government follow suit in cellphone surveillance to help track and contain the spread of Covid-19.
In Italy, Germany and Austria, Reuters reports, telecom companies say they are turning over data containing location information to public health officials, though aggregated and anonymized to prevent individuals from being identified.
Other media reports say governments in South Korea and South Africa are monitoring individual cellphone locations, and Israel this month authorized security agents tracing the coronavirus infection to access location and other data from millions of cellphone users that The New York Times reports they had been collecting, previously undisclosed, since 2002.
Separately, authorities in Iran, Poland, and India are among those developing apps to monitor whether people are observing quarantine or interacting with suspected COVID-19 patients, according to international news reports.
Although public health experts say strict limitations on movement are required to contain the coronavirus, journalists are acutely aware of the risks posed to their work when governments and technology companies monitor citizens’ cellphone activities.
In recent years, Committee to Protect Journalists has tracked the journalist targets of Pegasus, a technology the Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group markets to help government agencies hack into individual phones. (The firm has told CPJ that it investigates allegations of abuse.)
The CPJ has separately documented how intelligence officials can abuse access to cellphone networks to track and lure reporters and their sources.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority should come up with this proposal and launch this service in collaboration with the cell phone companies. Pak Destiny