Europe eyes smartphone location data to stem virus spread

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The Czech Republic has become the first European government to embrace a potentially intrusive human-tracking tool to pinpoint carriers of the new coronavirus and determine who they might be infecting. More may follow and the trend worries privacy advocates, who fear such ubiquitous surveillance could be abused.

The use of digital tools to enforce strict social controls was pioneered by several of the Asian governments most successful at containing the pandemic locally. Israel, too, has just begun tracking the movements of virus carriers going back two weeks, using historical data to identify with whom they intersected. There is no indication so far that U.S. officials plan such an app.