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Canada’s Health Authorities Tracked People’s Phones During the Pandemic

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) tracked people’s movements during the pandemic without their knowledge, including trips to pharmacies and liquor stores.

BlueDot, an intelligence analysis company, prepared movement reports for PHAC using anonymized data acquired from mobile devices. The reports helped the public health agency understand movement patterns during the pandemic.

According to the National Post, one of the reports was obtained by the ethics committee in the House of Commons. The report revealed that PHAC was able to get detailed insights into people’s movements, including visits to liquor stores, pharmacies, and grocery stores, as well as visits to friends and stores. The agency also collected data showing visits to other provinces and towns, and time spent in each location.

Members of the ethics committee expressed concerns about the extent of the information collected, although the data did not contain personal identifiable information.

“Questions remain about the specifics of the data provided if Canadians’ rights were violated, and what advice the Liberal government was given,” said Damien Kurek, a Conservative MP.