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Spain tracks mobile data to prepare next census

MADRID: Spain’s nationwide statistics company INE on Nov 18 started utilizing the placement knowledge of thousands and thousands of cell phone customers to trace their actions for a number of days in preparation for the following census, elevating privateness considerations.

The unprecedented operation is being carried out in cooperation with Spain’s three greatest cell operators – Movistar, Orange and Vodafone – which account for 78.7% of all cellphones in use within the nation.

INE will analyse customers’ actions between Nov 18 and 21, plus Nov 24 and Dec 25 and on two days subsequent summer time – July 20 and Aug 15, which is a public vacation.

On these dates INE will obtain data relating to the placement of cellphones at completely different occasions of the day.

INE stated the knowledge will enable it to raised put together its subsequent census of the inhabitants in 2021, and get a extra correct image of individuals’s whereabouts in the course of the day and their place of residence at evening than it will get from conventional means similar to mailing out questionnaires.

Individuals could also be formally registered as residing in a city when the truth is they dwell elsewhere, however cell location knowledge reveals the place they are surely.

Governments depend on correct inhabitants knowledge as a way to allot sufficient funds for public companies similar to transportation and well being care.

The a part of the research carried out on Christmas Day and over the summer time is supposed to detect the place folks spend their holidays or what number of households get collectively for the vacations.

INE pays the three cell operators practically €500,000 (RM2.30mil) for the info, a spokesman for the company stated.

It guarantees that every one the info it receives from the operators can be scrubbed of any personally identifiable data and as a substitute be “fully nameless”.

“INE won’t ever have any type of particular person data,” the INE spokesman stated.

Regardless of such reassurances, the mission has raised alarm bells. Spanish newspapers and TV stations have stated folks can stop their location knowledge from being shared with INE.

“We’re in favour of utilizing statistics, however not the usage of folks like guinea pigs with out their information and with out having given their consent,” Simona Levi, the founding father of cyber activist collective Xnet, stated in a press release. – AFP

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