New App Tracks Users’ Movements To Warn About Possible Contact With Covid-19
By installing the Mapy.cz mobile app, users can receive warnings if they have been close to people who have tested positive for Covid-19. Photo credit: Courtesy of Seznam.cz.
Brno / Czech Rep., Mar 24 (BD) – The new location sharing function on Mapy.cz analyzes location history data from users’ mobile phones, then notifies them if they spent a significant period in the presence of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The identities or locations of infected patients will not be revealed. The app is currently using data shared by relevant organizations with the patients’ consent, but hopes to get direct consent from patients soon. As their website states, “That way data does not have to be transmitted through various entities, and we can take care of their privacy ourselves.”
The chance to learn whether you have been near someone infected is clearly attractive to the public; at the time of writing the app had been downloaded over 430,000 times, a figure which has more than doubled in just 24 hours.
The service mirrors steps taken by various governments around the world that are using citizens’ mobile data to trace possible coronavirus contacts. The method is controversial and has met with strong criticism from civil rights organisations, but the mapy.cz service is exclusively opt-in, and the website for the service stresses that all data is anonymized, and will be deleted when the crisis is over.
The website for the service stresses that the app cannot tell you whether you have Covid-19, or protect you from the virus, and all the normal precautions should still be followed. To download the app and share your location data, visit the website.