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Don’t Get Caught Not Social Distancing. Your Smartphone Will Rat You Out

Don’t Get Caught Not Social Distancing. Your Smartphone Will Rat You Out

How Social Distancing has Impacted Everyone

Regardless of how social distancing has impacted everyone, COVID-19 changed the world as we knew it. Everyone has felt the affects of COVID from getting laid off as a result, or instantly becoming a home school parent, we’ve all been impacted in some way by the new normal. Many who have never worked from home before or had to find news ways to earn an income from their homes were exposed to cabin fever at minimum and, maybe, a case of the crazies. The urge to go out and just get together with friends continues to be a monkey on the backs of almost all but the seriously introverted hermit. Some are lucky enough to form new relationships with their neighbors and maybe bend the rules a little bit because, really, who’s going to know? Right?

A New Potential Threat

It would at least appear to be very unlikely that you would get “in trouble” for breaking COVID-19 social distancing rules. Although we hear about heavily populated areas enforcing the guidelines more so than other areas, it’s just hard to imagine how this could be controlled and how there could be accountability. Our first-responders, healthcare professionals, and anyone else who’s lived in heavily populated areas or around people who have tested positive for the virus, have been living in fear and understandably so. However, there’s now reason for everyone to be fearful, or at least cautious. This new threat is indiscriminate of age or health but has to do, ironically, with one of our only sources of socializing, entertainment, and interaction with the outside world since the beginning of the new COVID-19 life – our mobile devices.

Smart Phones Reveal Which Americans Are Social Distancing.

If you’re like me and over 50% of other mobile phone users in the US, you use an iPhone and there’s reason for concern. We recently learned that your own phone is now watching and listening and a whole new way. It’s been no secret that AI and machine learning have developed to a point where their insights about us can be more accurate than our own self-perception but now technology in your iPhone is checking to see if you’re practicing good social distancing practices. Specifically, not just you but in the background with other nearby devices making sure you are staying far enough away from other people. And, for those not following the new rules, your iPhone will probably tell on you. (WaPo)

Over 50% of US mobile phone users choose Apple

Source: StatCounter Global Stats – Device Vendor Market Share

U.S. government is in talks with Facebook, Google and other tech companies about using anonymous location data to combat the coronavirus, including tracking whether people are keeping at safe distances from one another. The data wouldn’t be held in some federal database; it would be managed by industry and health officials, who could query it for research.

The Unacast maps are searchable and will be updated daily. On Monday, the New York Times posted GPS data from a firm called Descartes Labs for March 11 through 20.
Unacast assigned an A grade to places that show at least a 40 percent decrease in average distance traveled. On March 20, the first day in its database, the states as a whole that earned an A included Alaska, Massachusetts, Nevada and Vermont. Big reductions in movement are also visible in areas hit hard by the virus, such as New York City (a 57 percent change) and California’s Santa Clara county (a 54 percent change).
Unacast deemed anything less than a 10 percent change an F. Only Wyoming earned that grade.
It’s the middle of the night. Do you know who your iPhone is talking to?

Do you know who your iPhone is talking to at night?

The technology works in the background with Bluetooth where nearby devices exchange unique identifiers and share the information with the government and public health officials where the aggregate is used to make heat maps like we have all seen over the past several months.

Unacast, a pretty young company, acquires your location data through apps where you previously gave permission. The Unacast maps are searchable and are updated daily. The New York Times consistently posted GPS data from a firm called Descartes Labs also.

Can iPhone trackers be removed or turned off?

To fully rid your phone of the many tracking devices and marketing listeners, one must carefully vet their apps and turn off all permissions for GPS. Is that 100% guaranteed, no.  Keep in mind, South Korea has used an app to track tens of thousands of quarantined people whose phone would alert authorities if they left home and another group of researchers used data from half a million public Instagram stories to identify the places around Italy where people are breaking quarantine orders.

Navigate to the iPhone Exposure Logging App

To access the contact tracking software on an iPhone is pretty easy. It’s almost hidden in plane view. Navigate to your settings. Once in settings, go to Privacy. Finally, once in Privacy section, find the Bluetooth options and you will see the Exposure Logging App at the top.

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BJ Blackburn
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