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Turkey to track citizens via mobile phones to enforce quarantines

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey will monitor the mobile phones of those diagnosed with the new coronavirus to ensure they do not break quarantine, authorities said on Wednesday, marking the latest measure to stem an outbreak that has surged over the last month.

Turkey will start tracking citizens and send them a message and call them each time they leave their homes, the presidency’s Communications Directorate said.

They will be asked to return home and police will penalise those who continue to violate quarantine rules, it said, adding that Turkish law allows for processing of personal data without consent for “exceptional aims”.

Since the first one was confirmed on March 11, Turkey’s coronavirus cases have surged to more than 34,000 with 725 deaths as of Tuesday.

Ankara has taken strict measures to limit social contact, quarantining some towns, banning mass prayers, closing schools, bars and restaurants and limiting inter-city travel.

President Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly called on citizens to impose their own quarantine but stopped short of imposing a broad stay-at-home order.

China, Singapore, South Korea and other countries have asked residents to use apps and other technology to track their compliance with quarantines, but privacy activists argue such measures can compromise individual liberties.

The European Union is drawing up common rules for using mobile apps to track the spread of the virus, aiming to make better use of the technology and address privacy concerns.

The directorate said Turkey’s government will ensure that the personal data collected will not be used for any other aim.

(Reporting by Can Sezer and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Ali Kucukgocmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer, William Maclean)



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