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The British government tracked the location of millions of UK citizens without their knowledge or consent

The United Kingdom tracked the location of millions of citizens without their knowledge. (Image: stock photo with edits)
The United Kingdom tracked the location of millions of citizens without their knowledge. (Image: stock photo with edits)
The United Kingdom released a report stating that it tracked the location of 10% of cell phone users without notifying them or receiving their consent. The tracking was used to determine how willing citizens were to spend time away from home after the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

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Location tracking by government agencies became a major concern with the rise in popularity of smartphones, and it looks like some of those fears were not unfounded. A recent report disclosed by the government of the United Kingdom admitted that millions of British citizens had their location tracked without their knowledge or consent.

The report states that 10% of British mobile phone users had their locations tracked via proximity to cell phone towers. The tracking was used to see how the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines affected Brits’ willingness to spend time away from their homes.

According to The Telegraph, the report states that people’s locations were tracked without their “express knowledge.”

A report from the SPI-B committee of Government scientists admitted that data from one in ten peoples’ phones were tracked in February, without their owners’ express knowledge.

The UK government downplayed concerns by claiming the tracking was anonymized. Per The Telegraph:

A Government source said: “This analysis is at the cell tower level of anonymised data and is therefore not individual surveillance.”

Perhaps most alarming is that the tracking took place without giving the participants the option to consent to the study. Worse still, those tracked had no idea their location was monitored.

Apple came under fire last September when it released an iOS update with COVID-19-related tracking tools baked into it. That update at least required users to intentionally opt-in to the service. The British government apparently didn’t give its citizens that courtesy.

What do you think of the UK government’s tracking study? Let us know in the comments. 

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Source(s)

The Telegraph (paywall)

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Sam Medley
Sam Medley - Senior Tech Writer - 1129 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2016
I've been a computer geek my entire life. After graduating college with a degree in Mathematics, I worked in finance and banking a few years before taking a job as a database administrator. I started working with Notebookcheck in October of 2016 and have enjoyed writing news and reviews. I've also written for other outlets including UltrabookReview and GeeksWorldWide, focusing on consumer guidance and video gaming. My areas of interest include the business side of technology, retro gaming, Linux, and innovative gadgets. When I'm not writing on electronics or tinkering with a device, I'm either outside with my family, enjoying a decade-old video game, or playing drums or piano.
contact me via: @samuel_medley
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 05 > The British government tracked the location of millions of UK citizens without their knowledge or consent
Sam Medley, 2021-05-24 (Update: 2021-05-24)