Justin Trudeau Floats the Ideas of Tracking Canadians On Their Cell Phones
On March 24, 2020, the Liberal government of Justin Trudeau said that the use of location tracking technology is not completely off the table to tackle the Wuhan virus.
“I think we recognize that in an emergency situation we need to take certain steps that wouldn’t be taken in a non-emergency situation, but as far as I know that is not a situation we are looking at right now,” he stated.
“But … all options are on the table to do what is necessary to keep Canadians safe.”
The Post Millennial reported that Toronto City Mayor John Tory announced that his city has already enacted similar measures to track city dwellers’ phones.
Tory said to the tech-news site The Logic that cellphone companies were giving him “all the data on the pinging off their network on the weekend” so that they could track where people were gathering.
“[It’s] something we’re doing now… I asked for it, and I’m getting it,” stated Tory.
Tory’s comments contradict the official stance of the city of Toronto, who says it “will not be using cell phone location data.”
“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,” said spokesperson Brad Ross in an e-mail statement, according to a Global News report.
In countries like South Korea, phone and credit card data are used to track the movement of people who have contracted the Wuhan virus. If someone was in close contact with another person who caught the disease, a notification was then sent to their phone.
In South Korea, individuals potentially exposed to the disease are quarantined at home and tracked with GPS technology. Fines for leaving their house are roughly $8,000.
Similarly, Israel has also started using cellular data to track individuals who tested positive for the Wuhan virus.
Americans should be thankful they live in a country with robust civil liberties.
In many other countries, times of crisis instantly propel the government to take extreme actions that substantially erode basic freedoms.