return icon Vietnamnet.vn

Spain starts tracking mobiles but denies spying

Millions of phone users are being followed this week but critics fear it is a step closer to spying.

 

Millions of Spanish mobile phone users are being tracked this week as part of the government's census, in a move that critics fear is a step closer towards spying on the population.

Statistics agency INE insists the eight-day project is anonymous and aimed at getting a better idea of where Spaniards go during the day and night.

The three biggest mobile companies are taking part in the scheme.

They say that by handing over the data they are not breaking any laws.

What is the idea of tracking mobiles?

The statistics agency wants to track the movement of Spaniards over eight days, first to their places of work or study from 18-21 November and later on days off and holidays. The second part of the experiment will be done on Sunday 24 November, Christmas Day and two days next summer. 

The three companies - Movistar, Vodafone and Orange - cover 78.7% of Spain's mobile phone users and are to be paid a total of €500,000 (£430,000; $550,000) for taking part in the study.

The country will be divided up into 3,200 cells with more than 5,000 residents, and the operators will work out how many phones are within each cell at various times of day. They will analyse phones between midnight and 06:00 to find out where people live and then later between 09:00 and 18:00.

"We will know for example how many mobiles there are at 17:00 on a particular street in any city of more than 15,000 people, but no more than that," INE told the El Confidencial website.

Once all the data is analysed, the agency hopes to have a clearer idea of when and where Spaniards travel and then use the information to improve transport and public services. INE wants to use the details in the next census in 2021.

The mobile operators insist there is no way users can be identified as no personal data is being transferred.

What do critics say?

On social media especially, Spaniards have raised privacy concerns. One technology lawyer, David Maeztu, said phone operators were not supposed to use data from customers for statistical purposes.

Some users suggested turning their phones off or switching to airplane mode while the study was taking place. Others pointed out that many Orange and Vodafone users could set their preferences or email their provider to prevent their data being passed on to third parties.

Data expert Ravi Naik warns that one click is all it takes to share your personal data across an ecosystem of companies

 

Spanish consumers' organisation OCU warned ahead of the experiment that using a mobile phone's location was itself personal data, and that keeping the details of the phone numbers anonymous was insufficient. It said the data had to be grouped together in "aggregate form" to ensure the study was lawful.

Cybersecurity expert José Rosell said he was baffled that people were concerned that the data was out there but was not being used.

Others were surprised at the outcry, when no-one batted an eyelid at using a variety of apps such as Google Maps, Facebook and Amazon as part of their daily lives.

"These days any mobile has between 10 to 20 movement trackers. As well as geolocation, there are cameras and microphones. People don't think what that means," Mr Rosell told El Mundo newspaper.

Several governments have raised concerns that mobile communications could be used to spy or disrupt telecoms in the future.

The US and some other countries have cited security concerns to block the use of equipment made by Chinese mobile phone maker Huawei in next-generation 5G mobile networks. BBC

MORE NEWS

Vietnam to attend ASEAN Tourism Forum 2023 in Indonesia

Vietnam will participate in ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2023 themed “ASEAN: A Journey to Wonderful Destinations”, and the Travel Exchange (TRAVEX) trade fair in Yogyakarta, Indonesia from February 2 – 5.

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City among safest cities in Southeast Asia

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have both been included in a list of the safest cities in Southeast Asia, as compiled by statistics site Numbeo.

Action plan issued to accelerate national anti-corruption strategy building

Deputy Prime Minister Le Minh Khai, head of the steering committee on building the national anti-corruption strategy by 2030, has signed a decision on the issuance of the committee’s action plan.

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS JANUARY 31/2023

Latest guidance on one-way money transfers from Viet Nam

HCM City proposes removing hindrances to develop real estate market

Ho Chi Minh City authorities made a proposal to clear bottlenecks for healthy and sustainable development of the real estate market.

More high-value foreign investment projects needed as tax policies change

Vietnam needs to improve FDI quality, attracting high-tech projects that promise to bring higher added value.

Khmer's ginger cake of love and faithfulness

The ginger cake of the Khmer ethnic group in Soc Trang Province is a beloved traditional treat that is often offered to ancestors on important anniversaries such as the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival.

HCM City promotes digital transformation in education

Digital transformation is considered key to improving education and training quality, as proven by the effect of HCM City actively applying digital transformation over the past five years.

Hanoi to close fruit shops lacking proper food safety preparations

The capital city of Hanoi encourages the expansion of safe fruit businesses while clamping down on fruit shops that do not comply with food safety protocols, specifically street vendors.

Dutch diplomat donates Vietnamese paintings to national museum

Vietnam National Fine Arts Museum has received two paintings from former deputy ambassador Ellen Berends of the Netherlands to Vietnam.

Hanoi's unique rice cooking contest in photos

On the 8th day of the first lunar month each year (January 29, 2023), Thi Cam village in Hanoi’s Nam Tu Liem district holds a rice cooking contest.

Hanoi proceeds with park revitalization program

The implementation of Hanoi leaders’ promise to revive parks has begun: admission to Thong Nhat Park is now free after the removal of the fence, and Con Coc Flower Garden has a new look. However, there are still many things that need to be done.

Vietnamese farmers on board the ‘digital agriculture train’

In the digital era, next-generation farmers can fertilize and water their fields in Binh Phuoc from afar, even in a different country.

Vietnam forecast to become second-largest economy in Southeast Asia by 2036

2023 is predicted to be the year of many challenges for the Vietnamese economy due to the gloomy outlook of the global economy and multiple crises.

Prenn Pass leading to Dalat to be closed for expansion

Vehicles will be banned from using the seven-kilometer-long Prenn Pass to travel to Dalat City as work on the pass upgrade and widening project begins on February 6.
back_to_top