[T]echnology

More Tracking and Less Lockdown Against Covid-19

Countries in Asia appear to be having more success in combating pandemics than the Western world. Government tracking meets less resistance than in Europe.

Measures promoted by governments against Corona, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and various approaches to a lockdown, are meeting with increasing resistance from parts of the population. Consistent personal tracking, including movement monitoring of people who have been quarantined, has been abandoned with reference to the GDPR and the Corona app has been used as a blunt sword in the process.

In Europe, citizens disclose their personal data to private companies without hesitation if they expect an advantage, even if these advantages quickly turn out to be a mistake, for example in the case of loyalty cards, because the customers are in fact bound to the companies that issue such systems, which are not called customer loyalty programs for nothing. Discounts in some areas may well be offset by higher prices in other segments that are less in the customer’s sights.

Resistance to government data collection

Even with numerous messenger systems, users usually give up their data without hesitation if they are assured that the communication content they send is encrypted. However, the fact that it is commercially valuable for providers to be able to evaluate users’ movement profiles is often overlooked.

Anyone who believes in anonymity on the Net here has not understood the technology. With the IMEI, every smartphone has a unique number that is only valid for this device. The abbreviation stands for “International Mobile Equipment Identity”. It consists of a total of 15 digits and is unique for every device worldwide. In addition, a mobile device also transmits the so-called IMSI number (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) when dialing into the mobile network. This combination of numbers comes from the SIM card inserted.

Anyone using their SIM card in another mobile device keeps the IMSI number, but then linked to a different IMEI number. The IMEI number was originally intended as a unique identifier. In the meantime, however, it can also be forged. In the case of counterfeit IMEI numbers, there is a risk of the same number being used twice, which can lead to inconvenience in connection with criminal investigations, for example.

The technology that makes it possible to track the movement of certain smartphones is already available today and is also used by private providers to create user profiles. The state has so far only been known to use smartphone data to determine the volume of movement, for example, in connection with the influx to winter sports areas, but not to track individual identified users. In Europe, distrust of the state outweighs the potential benefits of monitoring quarantine obligations.