Company tracks social distancing by tracking cell phones, give Minnesota an ‘A’


MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (CNN) – People in Minnesota seem to be following the rules when it comes to social distancing.

A data company used cell phones to see how many people are really staying inside, and Minnesota received top marks. The state was awarded an “A” grade for social distancing on Tuesday.

The grade came from the website Unacast. They claim Minnesotans have cut down on how much they travel by about 45%. How do they know? From tracking people’s cell phones.

“Most app developers make more money selling our personal information than they do from selling us a 99 cent app,” said Mark Lanterman with Computer Forensic Services.

Lanterman was formally in the U.S Secret Service Electronic Crimes Task Force. He’s now the CTO of Computer Forensic Services in Minneapolis. He says Unacast bought our data

“We should make sure that we’re actually reading the small print when we are installing apps on our devices,” said Lanterman

The most common data that gets sold from our phones is our active, real-time location. These companies are able to tell when someone outside of a building or inside. They can even track altitude, being able to tell when someone is on different floors of a building from other people.

Unacast won’t say what apps the partnered with, but Lanterman says it’s likely most of us have them on our phones.

“Without question these are some of the most popular applications on the app store,” said Lanterman. “Whenever we gain convenience from technology, we always give up a little bit of security.”

Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota each received a C grade for social distancing from the Unacast website.

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