O2 denies being asked to track Brits’ movements in coronavirus lockdown plot – but BT is about to start

O2 has had to deny claims that the UK Government asked it to reveal location data to see if Brits were social distancing.

However, BT is said to be in talks about revealing mobile data.

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Sky News initially said that the Government had asked O2 to reveal the location data of its users.

This was said to be because it wanted to check whether people were actually following the protective measures.

Reports of this were soon deleted.

According to the Metro, an O2 spokesperson said it was "not true and not representative of how all phone networks are being asked to help the government".


The spokesperson revealed that companies are only in talks about revealing data but this has not happened yet.

They stressed that if location data was to be revealed then it would be broad mass movements and not on an individual basis.

The spokesman added: "We are fully engaged in helping in the fight against COVID-19.

"Besides zero rating access to NHS and other support websites, we were asked along with other mobile operators to support those who are working tirelessly to map and control the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

"Using our mobile technology, we have the potential to build models that help to predict broadly how the virus might move.

"This would in no way be able to identify or map individuals, and operates within strict privacy guidelines."

Mobile tracking measures have already been taken in other countries to try and tackle the coronavirus outbreak.

This includes Israel and South Korea which reportedly used mobile data to track COVID-19 patient movements.

UK Health and Social Care Committee chairman Jeremy Hunt praised countries that have been using mobile location data in this way.

He has asked the Government's chief scientific adviser whether that would be a useful thing to do in the UK.

According to The Guardian, BT, which owns EE, is currently in talks with the UK Government regarding revealing location data to see if people are heeding coronavirus advice.

It is said that this information wouldn't be in real-time but could still show patterns of where people are and could be used to send health alerts to specific regions.

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What do you think of this O2 revelation? Let us know in the comments…

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