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Why your iPhone, Android location data may fight COVID-19


It’s no secret that tech giants like Facebook and Google have had access to your whereabouts for years. But did you know that information can be used to provide targeted relief during the spreading coronavirus crisis? 

Big tech companies often require users to “opt-in” to location tracking to launch the service. Then, they follow your every move, even when you don’t have the apps open. 

While studies continue to show that consumers aren’t fans of the practice, government agencies are reportedly trying to find out where people are and where they’ve been in the fight to contain the outbreak. 

Google recently revealed that it had talks with government officials and health experts about tapping its trove of location data in the age of COVID-19, a recent Washington Post report said. USA TODAY has reached out to Google for comment. 

It’s unclear what the outcome will be, the report said, but the government doesn’t plan on building its own database.

Still, experts say tech giants like Google and Apple are best positioned to offer useful location information that’s actionable in the wake of the virus which has infected more than 200,000 people globally. 

Group of people using smartphones.

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Google Maps gathers a hub of information on how many people are gathering and when, as the search giant’s services provide details on traffic and commutes. Apple also sends data from your device to its Maps service.



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