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Government coronavirus text: How does the Government have my mobile number?

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The government has implemented “unprecedented” measures to attempt to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The new measures means Britons are now on lockdown and are banned from leaving their homes with the exception of “limited” circumstances. The government has text its citizens to advise them of these measures, but how did it get your telephone number?

For the first time, all the UK’s mobile networks sent out a government message to their customers outlining the conditions for lockdown.

The text reads: “GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT. New rules in force now: you must stay at home.

“More info and exemptions at gov.uk/coronavirus

“Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”

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In March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK was facing a “national emergency”.

Three new measures were introduced to assist in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

These measures are:

  • Require people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes
  • Close all non-essential shops and community spaces
  • Stop all gatherings of more than two people in public.

How does the government have your mobile number?

The government has had to work with the operators to get the message sent because an emergency alert system, trialled seven years ago, was never put into practice.

If the system had been put into place, the government would have been empowered to bypass operators and send the message itself.

However, in the case of this message, mobile operators have sent the message to its users.

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Several countries, such as the Netherlands and South Korea, currently have systems in place which enable the government to message all its citizens.

Trials were run by the Cabinet Office in 2014 and were reportedly successfull, with three mobile operators testing the broadcasting of text messages in defined areas.

The report on the trials said the idea was popular with focus groups and the public and it said “the system would be an effective way of getting people to take specific protective action during an emergency”.

Additionally, the report outlined that it is possible to send alerts to the public within 15 minutes of making a decision.

But the system was not put into practice and the reason for this decision is unknown.

Letters are also being sent to around 1.5 million Britons this week advising them to stay at home for 12 weeks.

The letters or text messages sent by the government will be sent to at-risk groups including those who have received organ transplants, those living with severe respiratory conditions such as cystic fibrosis or those who have specific cancers, such as blood or bone marrow.

The reaction to the messages has been mixed, several people expressing outrage at how the government got their telephone numbers.

One Twitter user wrote:”So now the British government have my mobile number to text me? I beg you don’t pass it on to my ex! Face with tears of joy #CoronaVirus #COVID19 #COVIDー19″.

Another person wrote: “UK texts publicity stunt but can’t warn people of local hotspots”.

One person tweeted: “The British government is taking away our freedoms laid down in Magna Carta and we are being treated as prisoners.”

One fourth user said: “Forget a good morning text lol woke up from a text from the government how the hell they even got my number.”

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has warned Britons about fake coronavirus emails.

The NCSC’s website reads: “Cyber criminals are preying on fears of the coronavirus and sending ‘phishing’ emails that try and trick users into clicking on a bad link.

“Once clicked, the user is sent to a dodgy website which could download malware onto your computer, or steal passwords.

“The scams may claim to have a ‘cure’ for the virus, offer a financial reward, or be encouraging you to donate.

“Like many phishing scams, these emails are preying on real-world concerns to try and trick people into doing the wrong thing.

“Please refer to our guidance on dealing with suspicious emails to learn more about spotting and dealing with phishing emails.”

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