Location

06 May 2020
Shortly after launch, security researcher Baptiste Robert discovered that India's contact tracing app, Aarogya Setu ("Health Bridge"), allows users to spoof their GPS location, find out how many people reported themselves as infected within any 500-metre radius, and mount a triangulation attack to
17 Apr 2020
Abu Dhabi’s Department of Health has released a new mobile app, "Stay Home", to ensure those asked to self-quarantine are abiding by the isolation rules. Everyone subject to quarantine is expected to download the app and create a user name and password; the user must also grant access to camera
30 Apr 2020
The Indian authorities have said that the country's contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu ("health bridge", in Sanskrit), will be voluntary - but mandatory for federal government employees, food delivery workers, and some other service providers. It may also be needed to access public transport and
10 Apr 2020
In a sharp drop from the beginning of Canada's lockdown, after two months only one in six Canadians left their home on weekends compared to one in three at the beginning. The marketing company Environics Analytics compiled the report by analysing a database of anonymised location data from 2.3
21 Apr 2020
While the agency that manages residence permits, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, is closed, Israel has instructed Palestinians seeking to verify whether their permits to remain in Israel are still valid to download the app Al Munasiq, which grants the military access to
24 Mar 2020
A BBC article captures the story of a student living in Taiwan under quarantine, who reports that when his battery on his phone ran out, within an hour four different local administrative units contacted him; and a patrol was dispatched to verify his location; and a text was sent that the government
05 Apr 2020
On request, Vodafone Australia, which has 6 million subscribers nationwide, handed the mobile phone location data of several million Australians to the federal and New South Wales governments to help them monitor whether people are following the social distancing restrictions. The governments
29 Mar 2020

Saudi Arabia appears to be exploiting weaknesses in the global mobile telecoms network to track its citizens as they travel around the US, according to a whistleblower who has shown the Guardian millions of alleged secret tracking requests.

Data revealed by the whistleblower, who is seeking to expose vulnerabilities in a global messaging system called SS7, appears to suggest a systematic spying campaign by the kingdom, according to experts.

The data suggests that millions of secret tracking requests emanated from Saudi Arabia over a four-month period beginning in November 2019.

The tracking requests, which sought to establish the US location of Saudi–registered phones, appeared to originate from Saudi’s three biggest mobile phone companies.

The whistleblower said they were unable to find any legitimate reason for the high volume of the requests for location information. “There is no other explanation, no other technical reason to do this. Saudi Arabia is weaponising mobile technologies,” the whistleblower claimed. The data leaked by
24 Mar 2020
Estonia's Government Crisis Commission has instructed the state statistical office, Statistics Estonia, to use mobile geolocation data from companies such as Telia, Elisa, and Tele 2 in order to study people's movements to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Statistics Estonia hoped to launch the
27 Mar 2020
Together with Norwegian company Simula the Norwegian Institute of Public Health is developping a voluntary app to track users geolocation and slow the spread of Covid-19. Running in the background, the app will collect GPS and Bluetooth location data and store them on a server for 30 days. If a user
19 Mar 2020
In response to a case brought by the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah), the Arab Joint List, and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Israeli Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction on March 19 limiting the the state's and the Shin Bet security service's use of
17 Mar 2020
Aided by its small size, Singapore's contact tracing efforts were a key element of controlling the virus's spread; detectives used CCTV footage to locate the contacts of more than 6,000 people. Singapore also contacts individuals required to self-isolate several times a day and requires them to send
17 Mar 2020
Taiwan, linked by direct flights to Wuhan, moved to contain the virus as soon as reports of the Wuhan outbreak emerged. At the end of January, it suspended flights from China, and integrated its national health database with its immigration and customs information in order to trace potential cases
20 Mar 2020
The new Singaporean app, TraceTogether, developed by the Government Technology Agency in collaboration with the Ministry of Health was launched on March 20 after eight weeks of development. The app, which can be downloaded by anyone with a Singapore mobile number and a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone
23 Mar 2020
Russian prime minister Mikhail Mishustin has ordered the country's Communications Ministry to develop a system, to be built on analysing specific individuals' geolocation data from telecommunications companies that can track people who have come into contact with those who have tested positive for
23 Mar 2020
Under a new protocol, international passengers arriving at Lime's Jorge Chavez International Airport or by ship at Callao Port, is referred to medical staff if they are arriving from places with confirmed cases, even if they are asymptomatic. Passengers who show symptoms in transit are transferred
24 Mar 2020
After Pakistani residents queried whether messages labelled "CoronaALERT" sent out via SMS were legitimate, telecom authorities confirmed that it was authentic, being sent to selected individuals at the request of the Ministry of Health under the Digital Parkistan programme. Individuals were chosen
21 Mar 2020
Technology such as Hong Kong's electronic monitoring bracelets, used to ensure that people do not break their mandated quarantine, may appear reasonable during a pandemic, but could be problematic if deployed widely and used to identify those who have joined anti-government protests. The same
22 Mar 2020
The Greek government issued a ban on all unnecessary traffic from March 23 to April 6 in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Anyone moving around under one of the list of exceptions must carry a police identity card or passport and a certificate of movement, which citizens obtain by filling
17 Mar 2020
At the MIT Media lab, Ramesh Raskar is leading a team that includes software engineers at companies such as Facebook and Uber to develop the free and open source app Private Kit: Safe Paths. The app is intended to share encrypted information between phones in the network without going through a
22 Mar 2020
After Asian countries used mass surveillance of smartphones to trace contacts and halt the spread of the coronavirus, Western countries such as the UK and Germany are trying to find less-invasive ways to use phones to collect and share data about infections that would work within data privacy laws
19 Mar 2020
Facebook's scientists are analysing location data about compliance with social distancing recommendations in various countries using information from a private vault of location information its apps have collected. The analysis shows that only "very modest" changes in habits in the US, France, and
23 Mar 2020
Because tracking and limiting the movement of those suspected to be carrying COVID-19 carriers has been a factor in flattening the exponential curve of cases in places like Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea, Professor Marylouise McLaws, a technical advisor to the WHO's Infection Prevention and
25 Mar 2020
According to information collected by Le Temps, telco Swisscom will use SIM card geolocation data to communicate to federal authorities when more than 20 phones are detected in an 100 square meters area. Gathering of more than 5 people are forbidden in Switzerland since March 21. Data collected by
12 Mar 2020
The Belgian Minister of Public Health has approved a programme under which telephone companies Proximus and Telenet will transfer some of their their data to the private third-party company Dalberg Data Insights in order to help combat the coronavirus epidemic; Orange has also agreed "in principle"
19 Mar 2020
Researchers at the University of Oxford are working with the UK government on an app similar to the smartphone tracking system China developed to alert people who have come in contact with someone infected with the coronavirus. The British app, which would be associated with the country's National
17 Mar 2020
Russia has set up a coronavirus information centre to to monitor social media for misinformation about the coronavirus and spot empty supermarket shelves using a combination of surveillance cameras and AI. The centre also has a database of contacts and places of work for 95% of those under mandatory
17 Mar 2020
The Ecuadorian government has authorised tracking mobile phones via GPS satellite to ensure that citizens do not break mandatory quarantine after six violators were identified. Source: https://www.ecuadortv.ec/noticias/covid-19/romo-vigilancia-epidemiologico-covid19-? Writer: Ecuador TV Publication
20 Mar 2020
Among the Chinese companies making efforts to help the country respond to the coronavirus are the technology giants Alibaba, Baidu, ByteDance, Tencent, Xiaomi, and Foxconn. In order to fight misinformation, Baidu created a map layer on top of its standard Map App that shows real-time locations of
19 Mar 2020
The Polish government has developed the free Home Quarantine app for both iPhone and Android, which allows the police to check that individuals do not break quarantine; those who do may be fined up to PLN 5,000 and also offers support to those who are quarantined. Once users activate the app by
17 Mar 2020
Metrolinx, the public transport agency for the Canadian province of Ontario says that, on request, it gave Toronto Public Health contact information associated with registered Presto payment cards used on specific trips, after a 40-year-old man was diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19). The agency
06 Feb 2020
A phone-tracking system used by SAPOL for criminal investigations was used to better understand where a coronavirus-infected 60-year-old couple, who had travelled from Wuhan to visit relatives, roamed in Adelaide in order to identify people who might have been exposed, according to the South
19 Mar 2020
Hakob Arshakyan, Armenia's minister of the high technology industry, has convened a research group comprising experts in IT and AI has been convened to collect and analyse data on the spread of coronavirus, compare it with the data collected by international partners, and develop forecasts. The
19 Mar 2020
Mobile network operator O2 is providing aggregated data to the UK government to analyse anonymous smartphone location data in order to show people are following the country's social distancing guidelines, particularly in London, which to date accounts for about 40% of the UK's confirmed cases and 30
19 Mar 2020
BT, owner of UK mobile operator EE, is in talks with the government about using its phone location and usage data to monitor whether coronavirus limitation measures such as asking the public to stay at home are working. The information EE supplies would be delayed by 12 to 24 hours, and would
15 Mar 2020
US government agencies are considering a range of tracking and surveillance technologies as part of efforts to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. These include: geolocation tracking and facial recognition systems to analyse photos, both to enable contact tracing. Palantir is working with
06 Mar 2020
The "safety guidance texts" sent by health authorities and district offices in South Korea are causing information overload and have included embarrassing revelations about infected people's private lives. A text may include, for example, a link to trace the movements of people who have recently
18 Mar 2020
After Singapore’s Ministry of Health made information about victims public, and a developer turned the information into an interactive map. The map was discontinued on March 18 because the volume of cases had outstripped the developer's limits. Source: https://sgwuhan.xose.net/
27 Feb 2020
A document awaiting approval from the federal authorities outlines the measures Russia may need to adopt in the event of a widespread COVID-19 outbreak. In "emergency mode". The proposal's Plan A allows for cancelling all international sports, cultural, scientific, and social events in Moscow
17 Mar 2020
The German mobile operator Deutsche Telekom announced in a press conference on RKI Live that it had passed on, anonymised, its users' movement data to the Robert-Koch Institute to study the extent to which the population would follow the government's restrictions. RKI president Lothar Wieler said
11 Mar 2020
A Hamburg geotracking startup called Ubilabs is working with the Hannover School of Medicine on a data analysis platform that could track people who have tested positive for the coronavirus and their contacts, Der Tagesspiegel reported on Tuesday; this type of tracking would require individuals'
17 Mar 2020
The Austrian telecom operator A1 has voluntarily provided the government with "anonymized" location data of its customers for the first two Saturdays in March. The data shows that citizens have significantly reduced their social contacts. After critics expressed privacy concerns, the company issued
01 Mar 2020
A group of independent developers in Argentina started CoTrack, a public crowdsourced effort to develop an app to track and slow the spread of the virus. CoTrack registers each user's geographic movements and looks for times when they are close to people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19. When
17 Mar 2020
The Israeli compnay NSO Group, best known for the spyware it sells governments and has been used to target journalists and advocates, says it has developed a product aimed at analysing data to map people’s movements to identify who they’ve come in contact with, which can then be used to stop the
18 Mar 2020
In a statement, Vodafone said it is "producing an aggregated and anonymous heat map for the Lombardy region in Italy to help the authorities to better understand population movements in order to help thwart the spread of COVID-19." The company offered to help governments develop insights based on
17 Mar 2020
Ministers have permitted the Shin Bet security service to "use the cellular phone data of carriers of the disease to retrace their steps and identify anyone they may have infected", and will relay the information to the Health Ministry, which will send a message to those who were within two meters
17 Mar 2020
A task force at the Italian Ministry of Innovation, in collaboration with the University of Pavia to leverage big data technologies to deal with COVID-19, after the WHO advised governments that lockdowns alone are not enough, and that testing, isolation, and contact tracing are crucial. The effort
17 Mar 2020
A task force at the Italian Ministry of Innovation, in collaboration with the University of Pavia to leverage big data technologies to deal with COVID-19, after the WHO advised governments that lockdowns alone are not enough, and that testing, isolation, and contact tracing are crucial. The effort
26 Feb 2020
Facebook announced on its blog that it was providing researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan with aggregated and anonymised mobility data and high resolution population density maps to help inform their forecasting models for the spread
26 Feb 2020
Facebook is providing researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan "aggregated and anonymized" mobility data and high resolution population density maps to help inform their forecasting models for the spread of the virus as part of our
01 Mar 2020
Software on smartphones dictates whether an individual should be quarantined. Chinese citizens in 200 cities, beginning with Hangzhou, are required to install the Alipay Health Code app, developed by Hangzhou's local government with the help of Alipay owner Ant Financial, on their smartphones. After
16 Sep 2019
Bethany Christian Services, an international pregnancy support and adoption agency, is launching a programme with Copley Advertising to send targeted ads to individuals visiting Planned Parenthood clinics, abortion clinics, methadone clinics and high-risk areas (AHPA). The targeting will be done
09 Jan 2019
The US government created a database of more than 50 journalists and immigrant rights advocates, many of whom were American citizens, associated with the journey of migrants travelling from Central America to the Mexico-US border in late 2018. Officials from Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
29 Apr 2019
A private intelligence company, LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, used social media to monitor more than 600 “Family Separation Day Protests” held across the United States on June 30, 2018, to oppose the Trump administration’s policy family separation policy. The policy was part of a “zero tolerance”
06 May 2019
Absher, an online platform and mobile phone app created by the Saudi Arabian government, can allow men to restrict women’s ability to travel, live in Saudi Arabia, or access government services. This app, which is available in the Google and Apple app stores, supports and enables the discriminatory
31 Jan 2019
In late 2018, researchers at SINTEF Digital Norway, ETH Zurich, and Berlin's Technical University discovered a new and serious vulnerability in several generations of the cellular mobile communications protocols: 3G, 4G, and the upcoming 5G. The flaw affected Authentication and Key Agreement, which
08 Jan 2019
It was already known that law enforcement agencies can track phones to within 500 metres if they show service providers a warrant, but in January 2019, it became clear that the same real-time location data was being sold to a wide range of third parties, including car salesmen, property managers
15 Nov 2018
In November 2018, a security researcher found that the location-tracking children's watch MiSafe's Kid Watcher Plus, originally released in 2015, neither encrypted nor secured the children's accounts, allowing him to track their movements, secretly listen in to their activities, and spoof calls to
30 Jun 2018
In 2018, the Spanish La Liga app was found to be using the microphone and GPS to clamp down on bars infringing copyright by broadcasting matches without paying. Granting the app the permissions it requests at installation to access the mic and GPS location allows it to turn on the mic at any time
01 Mar 2018
As part of efforts to tone down street fights at night Statumseind in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, the city has deployed technology: wifi trackers, cameras, and microphones attached to lamp posts detect aggressive behaviour and alert police. The data collected by these sensors is used to profile
14 Aug 2018
Semi-autonomous cars with built-in internet connections are increasingly being delivered with location tracking in place. Marketed as a convenience, the app FordPass links to Ford's Sync Infotainment system and can log frequent and recently visited locations. Similarly, GM Onstar's Family Link
12 Sep 2018
In September 2018, the attorney general of the US state of New Mexico filed suit against Lithuania-based Tiny Lab Productions claiming that the maker of the children's app Fun Kid Racing had violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (1998) by collecting location and other data about the
10 Aug 2018
In what appears to be an extension of China's tracking of its Muslim citizens, 3,300 of the 11,500 Chinese pilgrims joining the 2018 hajj to Mecca were outfitted with GPS trackers. When photos were shown of the first group preparing to depart wearing trackers around their necks, the state-run
01 Jun 2018
In June 2018, security researchers found that Google's smart speaker and home assistant, Google Home, and its Chromecast streaming device could be made to leak highly accurate location information because they failed to require authentication from other machines on their local network. The attack
02 Apr 2018
In April 2018, a researcher at Norway's SINTEF found that the gay-daring app Grindr was sending its 3.6 million users' HIV status and last tested date along with their GPS data, phone ID, and email to two app-optimising companies, Apptimize and Localytics. SINTEF also found that the company was
08 Mar 2018
In March 2018, Trever Feden, the CEO of a property management startup, exposed a flaw in the gay-dating app Grindr that opened access to the location data and other information about its more than 3 million daily users. A website Faden set up allowed Grindr users to see who was blocking them after
07 Sep 2018
In September 2018, the GuardianApp group of security researchers discovered that dozens of popular news, weather, and fitness iPhone apps that require access to location data sell the data they collect to companies engaged in businesses such as ad targeting. The group found apps such as ASKfm, NOAA
07 Apr 2018
In late 2018, after apps like Strava and Polar Flow exposed the movements of staff around military bases, the US Department of Defense banned military troops and other workers at sensitive sites from using fitness trackers and other apps that could reveal their users' location. Military leaders will
10 May 2018
The US company Securus provides a cellphone tracking service that can locate almost any cellphone in the US within seconds by obtaining data from major carriers via a system used by marketers and other companies. In 2018, former Mississippi County, Missouri, sheriff Cory Hutcheson was charged in
18 Jul 2018
In July 2018, Dutch researcher Foeke Postma discovered that Polar, the manufacturer of the world's first wireless heart rate monitor manufacturer, was exposing the heart rates, routes, dates, times, duration, and pace of exercises performed by individuals at military sites and at their homes via its
20 Apr 2018
In April 2018, the Austrian cabinet agreed on legislation that required asylum seekers would be forced to hand over their mobile devices to allow authorities to check their identities and origins. If they have been found to have entered another EU country first, under the Dublin regulation, they can
04 Apr 2017
In 2017, the Massachusetts attorney general's office reached an agreement under which Boston-based Copley Advertising agreed to eschew sending mobile ads to patients visiting Planned Parenthood and other health clinics. In 2015, Copley's geofencing technique used location information from
25 May 2018
In 2018, the digital marketing company Tell All Digital began marketing technology to personal injury law firms to enable them to send mobile ads to patients they know are waiting for treatment in an emergency room and for up to a month afterwards. The technology relies on geofencing, a technique
The CEO of MoviePass, an app that charges users $10 a month in return for allowing them to watch a movie every day in any of the 90% of US theatres included in its programme, said in March 2018 that the company was exploring the idea of monetising the location data it collects. MoviePass was always
The Danish company Blip Systems deploys sensors in cities, airports, and railway stations to help understand and analyse traffic flows and improve planning. In the UK's city of Portsmouth, a network of BlipTrack sensors was installed in 2013 by VAR Smart CCTV, and the data it has collected is used
18 Oct 2017
Our usual image of online advertising is that we are one of millions whose data is being examined by a large, remote organisation - a government or major company. Research from the University of Washington has found that anyone equipped with time, determination, and a relatively small budget of $1
20 May 2016
In 2016, Nguyen Phong Hoang, a security researcher in Kyoto, Japan demonstrated that the location of users of gay dating apps such as Grindr, Hornet, and Jack'd can be pinpointed even when they have turned on features intended to obscure it - a dangerous problem for those have not come out publicly
28 Jun 2016
In 2016, Facebook gave conflicting accounts of whether the service uses location data in order to recommend prospective Friends in its "People You May Know" feature. When the company first admitted - for publication - that location data was indeed one of the signals it used, many users felt this
14 Jun 2016
In 2016, Facebook and Google began introducing ways to measure the effectiveness of online ads by linking them to offline sales and in-store visits. Facebook's measurement tools are intended to allow stores to see how many people visit in person after seeing a Facebook campaign, and the company
03 Mar 2016
In 2016, a group of criminologists intend on identifying the famous graffiti artist Banksy used a forensic technique known as geographical profiling. The technique is more commonly used to identify potential suspects in cases of serial rape, arson, and murder, and works by mapping crimes to see if
27 Apr 2011
As GPS began being increasingly incorporated into smartphones, satnav manufacturers like the Dutch company TomTom were forced to search for new revenue streams. In 2011, TomTom was forced to apologise when the Dutch newspaper AD reported that the company had sold driving data collected from