According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the federal government has no plans to use cellphone tracking to fight COVID-19—for now.
But Trudeau said, “all options are on the table” to keep Canadians safe, suggesting the idea has not been ruled out.
Singapore and Taiwan have been praised for their efforts in containing the COVID-19 outbreak, as both countries are using cellphone tracking to track and limit the spread of coronavirus. Both nations have schools and businesses open during the coronavirus pandemic.
In Singapore, residents download an app and enable Bluetooth, allowing the government to see location logs and encounters with those tested positive with coronavirus. The government also sends out updates twice a day to citizens via WhatsApp. For those in quarantine, the government sends text messages which residents must click on to prove they are at home.
Taiwan has a similar system in place, with cellphone monitoring for those in quarantine. Officials are alerted when people leave their address or turn off their phones. Those being tracked are called twice a day to ensure their phones aren’t just being left at home.
It’s unclear whether Canadians would give up civil liberties to this extent to help fight COVID-19. But for Singapore with a population of 5.6 million, there’s been only 401 active cases of coronavirus and two deaths.
The Logic reported yesterday the City of Toronto was using cellphone data from telecoms to slow down the COVID-19 outbreak. Telus denied they were contacted by the city, while Rogers similarly said the same.
Brad Ross, chief communications officer for the city, denied the claims on Tuesday morning saying, “The City of Toronto will not be using cell phone location data, nor does it have such data, to determine where people are not practicing physical distancing. We know the vast majority of people who are not essential or critical workers are staying home to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
Do you think cellphone tracking methods should be used to fight COVID-19 in Canada?