When a person with an infectious disease is identified, one of the things that health officials need to do is try and determine where that person has been, where they might have caught the disease, and who they might have come into contact with. This will allow them to prevent further spread of the disease.
Now with the coronavirus outbreak, it seems that this is more important than ever, and a report from The Washington Post has revealed that the US government has approached various tech companies such as Facebook and Google to request for location data, where it will be used to help track the spread of the virus as well as provide them with a better understanding on how to prevent its spread, and how effective social distancing is.
Understandably, there are some who might feel uncomfortable with this kind of information being given to the government as it can come across like an invasion of their privacy, although given the severity of the outbreak, there might not be much of a choice. If it’s any comfort though, government sources have told the publication that there are no plans to build a “government database”, and that information will be used to help provide health officials and researchers a better idea on how the virus spreads.
It can also be used to help predict potential hotspots, which in turn will allow the government to allocate health resources more efficiently.