O2 denies government has asked for user tracking data

(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / AstroStar)

O2 has denied reports it has been asked to hand over location data of its users to the government.

Sky News had claimed that the operator was being ordered to hand over anonymous tracking data in order to check if people were following guidance surrounding social distancing due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However O2 has said this is not the case, with a spokesman for the company said the claims were, "not true and not representative of how all phone networks are being asked to help the government".

Coronavirus social distancing

The spokesperson told the Metro that although O2 was in constant communication with the government, nothing had been put in place yet.

They added that O2 has the ability to provide location data across its network, but this would only relate to broad mass movements, not individual users.

"We are fully engaged in helping in the fight against COVID-19," the spokesperson added. 

"Besides zero rating access to NHS and other support websites, we were asked along with other mobile operators to support those who are working tirelessly to map and control the spread of coronavirus in the UK."

"Using our mobile technology, we have the potential to build models that help to predict broadly how the virus might move. This would in no way be able to identify or map individuals, and operates within strict privacy guidelines."

People in the UK have been told to avoid non-essential travel and social contact unless they have to, however the country is yet to implement full lockdowns as seen in other nations such as Italy and France.

Via: Metro

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.