The government, which has won global praise for its effective action against COVID-19, is rolling out a mobile phone-based “electronic fence” that uses location tracking to ensure people who are quarantined stay at home.
Governments worldwide are combining technology and human effort to enforce quarantines that require people who have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay at home, but Taiwan’s system is believed to be the first to use phone-tracking for the purpose.
“The goal is to stop people from running around and spreading the infection,” said Department of Cyber Security Director Jyan Hong-wei (簡宏偉), who is leading efforts to work with the nation’s telecoms to combat the coronavirus.
The system monitors phone signals to alert police and local officials if those in quarantine move away from their home or turn off their phone.
The authorities would contact or visit those who trigger an alert within 15 minutes, Jyan said.
Officials also call those quarantined twice a day to ensure they do not avoid being tracked by leaving their phone at home.
Those who break their quarantine can be fined up to NT$1 million (US$33,001).
Privacy concerns have limited the use of location data for disease-prevention efforts in nations such as the US, but the system has drawn few complaints in Taiwan, which had reported only 135 virus cases as of yesterday.
However, it has drawn some complaints for its intrusiveness.
“It’s creepy that the government is teaming up with telecoms to track our phones,” said a flight attendant in Taipei, who was put under 14-day quarantine after returning from Europe earlier this month.
The flight attendant said that she was admonished by a local administrator after failing to pick up a phone call in the morning when she was asleep.
“They said the police would come if I missed another phone call,” she said.
Many Asian nations are struggling to prevent a surge of infections from people who have returned from overseas, especially Europe.
In Hong Kong, location-tracking wristbands are given to those under quarantine.
In Singapore, the government uses text messages to contact people, who must click on a link to prove that they are at home.
Thailand has rolled out a mobile app that anyone arriving at an airport must download to help monitor where they have been in the event that they test positive for COVID-19.
Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, this week launched a mobile app to help track coronavirus cases and said that it could be used to enforce quarantine.
Other countries, such as South Korea and Israel, are using satellite-based tracking to conduct so-called “contact tracing” to identify where an infected individual might have passed the virus to others.
China has used a wide range of methods to monitor the health and whereabouts of people, and enforce restrictions on their movement.
OVERHAUL NEEDED: The government should improve its agricultural processing capabilities and expand to new markets to limit its reliance on China, an expert said China’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples was “unsurprising,” and Taiwan should have years ago altered its produce export strategies and target customers, experts said. China on Friday abruptly suspended imports of pineapples from Taiwan, saying that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful biological entities” on the fruit. Calling it an “unfriendly” move, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said that 99.79 percent of the pineapples sent to China since last year have met China’s import standards. Chiao Chun (焦鈞), the author of Fruits and Politics — A Recollection of Cross-strait Agricultural Interaction Over the Past Decade (水果政治學：兩岸農業交流十年回顧與展望), said that China’s announcement is clearly targeting
‘NOT COLD ENOUGH’: Schools are disregarding Premier Su Tseng-chang’s instruction that students may wear out-of-uniform clothing to stay warm, an association said An investigative report revealed that 72.5 percent of the nation’s senior-high schools and 95.6 percent of junior-high schools punish students for wearing unapproved winter clothes in contravention of educational guidelines, lawmakers and student rights advocates said yesterday. Speaking at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, the Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy said there is an endemic disregard for the Ministry of Education’s regulations and that private schools are more likely to contravene ministry rules. The report is a compilation of 2,856 student reports about dress code reinforcement at 425 high schools and vocational high schools, the association said. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌)
DECADES OF INFLUENCE: Over the past 20 years, China has made inroads with Aborigines, funding political campaigns and trips, a legislator said Lawmakers have called on the National Security Bureau to investigate claims of pervasive Chinese influence among Aboriginal communities. Legislators pointed to a surge in communist propaganda and Chinese-funded projects over the past few years, which they say are aimed at infiltrating and buying political influence among Aboriginal communities. “China has for decades carried out wide-ranging ‘united front’ tactics and propaganda campaigns targeting Aborigines,” said Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ying (陳瑩), a member of the Puyuma community in Taitung County. “Now, they are influencing elections for local councilors and village chiefs, offering money for candidates to mount their campaigns, and to
DISSATISFACTION? If the referendums collect more than 700,000 signatures each, they would have gotten the most signatures in the shortest time, the party said The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) two referendum petitions — one on banning the importation of pork with traces of ractopamine and the other on holding referendums on the same day as national elections — had as of Thursday gathered 691,398 and 674,497 signatures respectively, the party said yesterday. If the petitions collect more than 700,000 signatures apiece, they would have garnered the most signatures in the shortest time since the Referendum Act (公民投票法) was amended in 2017, party officials said. The KMT proposed the “anti-ractopamine pork” or “food safety” referendum just days after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement on Aug. 28 last