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Virus-tracking plans raise privacy concerns

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene
Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash.,, says privacy concerns have to be considered along with public health concerns. (DelBene.House.gov Photo)

Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., and two other members of Congress are sounding an alarm over the prospect of using location data to track the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter to President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the White House’s coronavirus task force, the three lawmakers take note of reports that Facebook, Google and other tech companies have been talking with administration officials about using data captured by smartphones and apps for public health purposes.

Although such applications may help public health officials limit the spread of COVID-19, they could also limit personal privacy, according to the letter, which was signed by DelBene as well as Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.; and Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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