Russia developing coronavirus tracking app to ensure patients stay home

Russia developing coronavirus tracking app to ensure patients stay home

It seems Russia is taking a leaf out of China’s book. The country is scheming to roll out an app to track citizens diagnosed with coronavirus in an effort to monitor whether they’re abiding orders to stay home.

According to government officials, the software is expected to launch by Thursday, BBC reports. The move coincides with a larger initiative between European health institutions to create a network of virus-tracking apps that communicate with each other. The UK and Germany are purportedly working on similar solutions, too.

[Read: Norwegian school ditches video calls after naked man ‘guessed’ meeting link]

Russia‘s software will initially be limited to citizens who’ve tested positive for COVID-19, but have been released from the hospital. BBC notes the app will request access to users’ calls, location, camera, storage, network information, and other data. It’ll be available for both Android and iOS.

Back in February, China dropped a similar app, which let people check if they had been in close contact with individuals infected by the coronavirus. Later reports suggested the app was sharing users’ data with local police.

Much like with China, security experts have raised concerns Russia could abuse the app to spy on millions of citizens.

“We’d be concerned about the possibility of this app being used to track the movements of millions of people, as well proving to be a tool for social control,” Tom Fisher, senior researcher at Privacy International, told BBC.

Read next: New coronavirus contact-tracing app coming to UK 'within weeks'

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