Claims the Government tried to ask for data to check people are keeping social distance is denied by O2

O2 has rejected claims the Government has asked it to hand over anonymous mobile phone location data to see if people are following official social distancing guidance.

People have been asked to stay at home unless they absolutely have to, but concerns remain that many are not following the advice, particularly in London where the outbreak is ‘weeks ahead’ of the rest of the country.

Sky News had initially said the Government asked for location data from 02 to see if people were obeying prevention measures before deleting their report. A spokesman for the company said the claims were ‘not true and not representative of how all phone networks are being asked to help the government’.

He said companies are only in talks at this stage and that nothing has been put in place yet. O2 said it has the ability to provide location data but said it would only relate to broad mass movements and never individuals’ data.

The spokesman added: ‘We are fully engaged in helping in the fight against COVID-19. Besides zero rating access to NHS and other support websites, we were asked along with other mobile operators to support those who are working tirelessly to map and control the spread of coronavirus in the UK.

‘Using our mobile technology, we have the potential to build models that help to predict broadly how the virus might move. This would in no way be able to identify or map individuals, and operates within strict privacy guidelines ’



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Written by

Lizzie Day


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