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Turkish pandemic plan raises concerns over citizens' digital rights

In effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, Ankara launched a mobile app that tracks patients, raising concern among digital privacy advocates.
 A woman wearing a protective face mask waits for a train as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, Istanbul, Turkey, March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Umit Bektas - RC2ORF9R2BLO

ISTANBUL — As Turkey grapples with the fastest rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, two initiatives linked to Ankara’s coronavirus response are raising concern among privacy and free speech advocates.

On Wednesday, the Turkish Health Ministry, in cooperation with local cell service providers, launched an application to monitor the movement of patients diagnosed with the novel coronavirus through their smartphones. The Turkish presidency’s director of communications, Fahrettin Altun, said the app, known as the “Pandemic Isolation Tracking Project,” would seek to ensure COVID-19 patients were following quarantine measures.

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