Tracking Michigan Protesters Raises Privacy, COVID-19 Spread Questions

Date: Jul 2, 2020
Category: News

Lansing — The tracking of hundreds of Michigan Capitol protesters’ cellphones from two rallies this spring has raised questions about protecting privacy rights, while testing limits of what location data can predict about the spread of the novel coronavirus from packed public events.

A liberal advocacy group most recently pursued the anonymized cellphone location data from more than 400 devices from individuals who attended the American Patriots Rally on April 30 in Lansing against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-home orders and used it to gauge their locations the next day in a bid to determine the potential spread of the virus from the demonstration. 

The location of 422 cellphones within a roughly four-block radius of the Capitol showed individuals traveled back to areas throughout the state, including West Michigan, Metro Detroit, Northern Michigan and the Indiana border after the event, according to data obtained by…

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