taiwan coronavirus tracking_electronic fence

Amid the increasing coronavirus pandemic, Taiwan has rolled out a mobile phone-based “electronic fence” that uses GPS to track people who are quarantined and make sure they stay in their homes.

While governments across the world are leveraging technology to enforce lockdowns and quarantine to stop the spread of virus and migration of people who are infected, Taiwan seems the first to use mobile phone tracking for that purpose. (via Reuters)

Taiwan Coronavirus Tracking

The smartphone location is continuously monitored and used to alert the police and local officials if those in quarantine try to leave their homes or turn off their phones.

Within 15 minutes of triggering an alert, the authorities will contact or visit those citizens. The officers also call twice a day to make sure that people don’t evade tracking by leaving their phones at home.

Jyan Hong-Wei, head of Taiwan’s Department of Cyber Security, who is collaborating with telecom companies to enforce the quarantine, says, “The goal is to stop people from running around and spreading the infection.”

Privacy Concerns

Privacy concerns have restricted the use of location data to combat coronavirus in several countries. However, this system has attracted only a few complaints in Taiwan, which currently has 108 coronavirus cases only as compared to more than 80,000+ in its neighboring country China.

A flight attendant in Taipei, who was put under 14-day quarantine after returning from Europe in mid-March, says the local officers reprimanded her after failing to pick-up the check-in phone call one morning as she was asleep.

“They said the police will come to me if I missed another phone call,” says the woman named Xiaomei. “I’m treated like a prisoner.”

Those who violate the quarantine rules can be fined up to T$1 million ($32,955).

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