Following a direct order from President Jair Bolsonaro, the Science and Technology Ministry has halted negotiations with telecom operators to monitor mobile phone GPS data to control Brazilians’ compliance with social isolation guidelines. Talks had been in progress since earlier this month, said news website UOL. The president’s allies have reportedly expressed concerns regarding data privacy, leading Mr. Bolsonaro to ask Science and Technology Minister Marcos Pontes to be “prudent.”
In stark contrast, the São Paulo state administration has employed a similar monitoring system since the beginning of the pandemic — and decided to extend it to cities with less than 200,000 inhabitants. As we’ve reported, Governor João Doria and telecom companies claim they don’t have access to personal data and, therefore, the monitoring does not constitute an invasion of privacy — despite worries raised by advocacy groups. Other locations, as Recife, have also used GPS technology to track people’s location.
Mobile phone monitoring in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic was first used in South Korea and China, to great success.
According to big data company In Loco, 60 percent of people on the company’s database — corresponding to roughly 60 million devices — are respecting social distancing recommendations.