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Mobile location data tracking tools raise privacy questions amid COVID-19

In response to the ongoing outbreak, mobile advertising and tech firms are offering up their geolocation data to track the spread of the virus and the adoption of social distancing. Now, government officials at the federal, state and local level are hoping to use this data to better understand current public behavior, according to The Wall Street Journal. Companies note that the data is anonymous and thus protects user privacy, but privacy experts are divided on how the sharing of this data comports with privacy laws and consumer expectations.

Michelle Cohen, member and chair of the privacy and data security practice at the law firm Ifrah Law PLLC, said in an interview that it is “generally considered reasonable” for privacy policies to state that a company collects and shares nonpersonally identifiable information.

“In most privacy policies, when it comes to anonymized info, organizations often speak more broadly, indicating they may share with third parties for research and analytics uses,” she said.

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