Can the Government Track Your Phone?

Can the Government Track Your Phone?

( – Americans have always cherished their freedoms above all else. We staunchly refuse to allow our rights to be trampled on. But what would it take to change that?

From the very beginning, the coronavirus outbreak impacted just about every aspect of daily life in the United States. But could something like a viral pandemic also get the American people to willingly give up their constitutional rights?

Tracking the Spread

Countries such as China, South Korea, Singapore, Iran, and Israel decided to use smartphones to track their citizens in an effort to control the spread of the disease. And, surprisingly, this tactic was successful.

The information they gathered helped these countries to monitor things such as where patients had been and who they had been in close contact with. It also allowed experts to predict disease hotspots.

But that couldn’t happen here in the US, right?

Yes, It Could

Apparently, it could very well happen here. A government task force met with Google, Facebook, and other large tech firms to discuss the possibility of using smartphones to track the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

An official with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) said they were “encouraged” by the willingness of these tech companies to assist with slowing the spread of the disease.

US Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios said protecting the health and safety of the public is the White House’s top priority. He added:

“Cutting edge technology companies and major online platforms will play a critical role in this all-hands-on-deck effort.”

So yes, it could absolutely happen here

Will We Allow It?

While the data they collect would be anonymous and the information would help experts to better understand the disease, are the American people willing to give up their rights and allow the government to invade their privacy in the name of stopping a pandemic?

We know for a fact that tracking smartphones can give us essential information about the spread of diseases. However, allowing the government to take these kinds of steps can be a slippery slope.

Following 9/11, we allowed the government to ramp up surveillance (remember Edward Snowden?). Would we make the same choice in the face of a viral pandemic or another national emergency?

It may not be that long before we find out.

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