US CDC Reportedly Using Anonymized Location Ad Data to Track COVID-19

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US CDC Reportedly Using Anonymized Location Ad Data to Track COVID-19
Number 1087
Broadcast Date MARCH 30, 2020
Episode Length 5:09
Hosts Rich Stroffolino

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US CDC, state and local governments are using anonymized location data from mobile ads to aid in pandemic response plans, UK telcos agree to remove data caps for wired broadband, and HQ Trivia returns.


The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to sources, the US CDC, state and local governments have used anonymized location data from mobile ads to aid in pandemic response plans. Data is received through the COVID-19 Mobility Data Network project coordinated by Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Princeton and other schools, with the goal of creating a portal with information on up to 500 cities in the US. The data is being used to see where people are gathering, how well stay-at-home orders are honored, and the impact of the pandemic on retail.
The UK's Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden announced that the country's largest telcos reached an agreement with the Office of Communications to remove data caps on fixed-line broadband, with BT, Virgin, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodaphone, O2, and Three among those signing on. As part of the agreement, the telcos will also prioritize infrastructure repair for vulnerable customers, help those customer unable to pay bills, and improve internet service packages to ensure people can stay connected.
Medical device maker Abbott received emergency use authorization from the US FDA for use of its existing ID NOW lab-in-a-box for COVID-19 testing. This uses molecular testing to look for viral RNA, can be used outside of a hospital, and return positive results within 5 minutes, or an all-clear within 13 minutes. Abbott hopes to be able to deliver 50,000 tests per day by next week.
The lab management company Battelle received special emergency authorization from the US FDA to implement a system to decontaminate N95 respirator masks using concentrated hydrogen peroxide. These masks are designed for single use, but the decontamination system allows them to be used up to 20 times. The process takes 2.5 hours, and Battelle currently has capacity for 80,000 masks per day. The company is partnering with the Columbus -based OhioHealth as its first healthcare-system partner.
Instacart workers led by the Gig Workers Collective plan to strike in the US on March 30th, demanding Instacart provide personal protective equipment, $5 extra per order hazard pay, change the default tip to 10%, and extend sick pay qualification to people with pre-existing conditions.
A Yelp and GoFundMe fundraising program to help local businesses affected by Covid-19 has been paused after people complained there was no easy or quick way to opt out of the fundraising without providing a drivers’ licenses or business ID verification. Yelp now says its working with GoFundMe to create a “seamless” approach where businesses have to opt-in.
Facebook announced it would spend $100 million in advertising and financial support for news organizations struggling to operate in the COVID-19 pandemic. Of this, $25 million will go to emergency grant funding for local media, with $75 million for ad spends on global news organizations. Facebook said the first round of grants went to 50 local newsrooms in the US and Canada.
Microsoft announced use of Azure services in regions with shelter-in-place orders increased 775% with use of services like Microsoft Teams, Windows Virtual Desktop, and Power BI. Microsoft announced last week that it would be prioritizing Azure services to first responders, medical facilities and other healthcare applications, and placed limits and "soft quotas" on free offers to prioritize capacity for paying customers.
Zoom updated its iOS app to stop sending device data to Facebook. According to a Zoom spokesperson, the company implemented a ‘Login with Facebook’ feature using the Facebook SDK, but that the SDK was also sending "unnecessary information" to Facebook, like mobile OS versions, device time zone, device model, and carrier. Zoom says it will eventually remove the SDK entirely, and allow users to login with Facebook through a browser.
After shutting down a little over a month ago, HQ Trivia returned with a new trivia content, initially announced by a tweet from co-founder Rus Yusupov. Sources tell The Verge that this wasn't a one-off event, and that more episode will air regularly in the future, although the actual schedule is unknown. HQ Trivia host Matt Richards also tweeted that users who did not cash out winning prior to the apps original shutdown will be able to do so this week.
Samsung debuted the Galaxy Chromebook at CES this year, and now announced the laptop will be released on April 6th. The ChromeOS device will come in one configuration, with a 10th gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM, and a 256GB SSD, with a 13.3-inch 4K touch OLED display and s-pen support for $999.


Preceded by:
"Week in Review for the Week of 3/23/2020"
US CDC Reportedly Using Anonymized Location Ad Data to Track COVID-19
Followed by:
"Fitbit Launches Charge 4 Fitness Tracker"