UK May Require Geotagged Selfies to Enforce COVID Isolation

The UK government is reportedly looking into enforcing COVID-19 quarantine by requiring people to shoot and send geotagged selfies at random times of the day.

The Sunday Times reports that UK officials are studying different tactics used by countries around the world to slow the spread of the coronavirus, and these include “quarantine hotels” (requiring arriving travelers to isolate at a hotel for two weeks) and “enhanced monitoring.”

One of the monitoring strategies under consideration is the kind that was rolled out by the Polish government, which is based on selfie photos and location data.

Under Poland’s Home Quarantine Monitoring system, those being monitored are contacted by a special app once a day at a random time, and the individual is given 20 minutes to send a photograph of themselves where they are. The person’s identity is checked with facial-recognition software, and the person’s GPS location is cross-referenced with the address they are isolating at.

Anyone who fails to comply with the selfie request within the 20-minute limit will be visited by police.

In Poland, the official app was developed by a software company called TakeTask, which repurposed its task management solution, which was designed for companies and institutions, for the purpose of isolation monitoring.

“[A]uthorities can concentrate their activity only on people breaching the quarantine and handle better those who need additional help,” the Polish government writes. “The police have less work and the system is more efficient.”

This type of system is only being considered for new arrivals in the UK and not those inside already, and it’s part of a major effort by the government to contain the new coronavirus variants that have been emerging and spreading around the world.

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