“Never let a crisis go to waste”
” Attorney General William P. Barr told the Associated Press on Tuesday that there would be swift and “severe” action if a foreign government was behind a disinformation campaign undertaken Sunday to cause fear in the United States over the coronavirus pandemic.
He also vowed punishment if a foreign government was responsible for a Sunday denial-of-service attempt on the computer networks of the Department of Health and Human Services. “
U.S. government, tech industry discussing ways to harness location data to combat coronavirus
March 17, 2020
WASHINGTON The U.S. government is in active talks with Facebook, Google and a wide array of tech companies and health experts about how they can use data gleaned from Americans’ phones to combat the novel coronavirus, including tracking whether people are keeping one another at safe distances to stem the outbreak.
Public-health experts are interested in the possibility that private-sector companies could compile the data in anonymous, aggregated form, which they could then use to map the spread of the infection, according to three people familiar with the effort, who requested anonymity because the project is in its early stages.
Analyzing trends in smartphone owners’ whereabouts could prove to be a powerful tool for health authorities looking to track coronavirus, which has infected more than 180,000 people globally. But it’s also an approach that could leave some Americans uncomfortable, depending on how it’s implemented, given the sensitivity when it comes to details about their daily whereabouts.
In recent interviews, Facebook executives said the U.S. government is particularly interested in understanding patterns of people’s movements, which can be derived through data the company collects from users who allow it. The tech giant in the past has provided this information to researchers in the form of statistics, which in the case of coronavirus could help officials predict the next hot spot or decide where to allocate overstretched health resources.
“We’re encouraged by American technology companies looking to leverage aggregate, anonymized data to glean key insights for COVID-19 modeling efforts,” said an official with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, who spoke only on condition of anonymity. “