The Public Health Agency of Canada accessed location data from 33 million mobile devices to monitor people’s movement during lockdown, the agency revealed this week.
“Due to the urgency of the pandemic, (PHAC) collected and used mobility data, such as cell-tower location data, throughout the COVID-19 response,” a spokesperson told National Post. The program’s existence was first brought to wider attention by Blacklock’s Reporter.
PHAC used the location data to evaluate the effectiveness of public lockdown measures and allow the Agency to “understand possible links between movement of populations within Canada and spread of COVID-19,” the spokesperson said.
In March, the Agency awarded a contract to the Telus Data For Good program to provide “de-identified and aggregated data” of movement trends in Canada. The contract expired in October, and PHAC no longer has access to the location data, the spokesperson said.