Motherboard report claims the CDC tracked millions of phones during COVID lockdowns

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There is no doubt that the COVID pandemic has changed many things for many people. From lockdowns to shutdowns, the entire pandemic affected most of the world in one way or another. Over two years later, reports are surfacing on various topics, including how government entities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) handled the situation.

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

A new report in Motherboard claims that the CDC used tracking software to track millions of Americans to see if they were following COVID lockdown orders. According to the report, the CDC purchased data on millions of Americans for other purposes aside from COVID.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) bought access to location data harvested from tens of millions of phones in the United States to perform analysis of compliance with curfews, track patterns of people visiting K-12 schools, and specifically monitor the effectiveness of policy in the Navajo Nation, according to CDC documents obtained by Motherboard. The documents also show that although the CDC used COVID-19 as a reason to buy access to the data more quickly, it intended to use it for more general CDC purposes.

The documents reveal the expansive plan the CDC had last year to use location data from a highly controversial data broker. SafeGraph, the company the CDC paid $420,000 for access to one year of data to, includes Peter Thiel and the former head of Saudi intelligence among its investors. Google banned the company from the Play Store in June.

The CDC used the data for monitoring curfews, with the documents saying that SafeGraph’s data “has been critical for ongoing response efforts, such as hourly monitoring of activity in curfew zones or detailed counts of visits to participating pharmacies for vaccine monitoring.” The documents date from 2021.

Vice Motherboard

There is more to the story, and we encourage you to head over to Vice Motherboard to read the entire report and other evidence they present.

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Last Updated on May 3, 2022.

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