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Moscow officials are reportedly planning to track all foreigners after Russia's borders reopen

Source: Kommersant

Moscow city officials have reportedly decided to create a system to track all foreign tourists using cellular data, once Russia’s borders reopen after the spread of coronavirus subsides, a source in the Mayor’s Office told the newspaper Kommersant. Officials apparently believe this level of surveillance will be necessary to prevent a second outbreak of COVID-19.

“The system should monitor local residents who potentially come into contact with foreigners, helping to localize outbreaks,” says Kommersant’s source. Moscow’s Transportation Department will reportedly offer an exclusive contract to acquire the cellular data needed to track people throughout the city.

Spokespeople for Mayor Sergey Sobyanin have denied that they are planning to build such a monitoring system, though officials have confirmed that they are exploring the cost of procuring “geo-analytical reports upon request.” 

Kommersant says one frontrunner for any city contract could be the tech giant Yandex, which “already shares various categories of data with the authorities, including traffic-flow information.” Representatives for Yandex and the telecoms MTS, Beeline, and Megafon all declined to comment on Moscow’s rumored project.

In early April, Moscow launched a system to track COVID-19 patients recovering at home under quarantine. These patients are required to remain indoors and use a special mobile app that tracks their movements, to ensure their compliance with quarantine measures. The federal government is also developing a system to monitor the movements of people diagnosed with COVID-19.

Since 2015, the Moscow Mayor’s Office has been buying anonymized geolocation data from cellular companies and tracking residents’ movements through data retrieved from CCTV and “Troika” public transportation passes.

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