05.04. Police Tracking

A Glitch or Tricked into Tracking?

I was checked ten days after arriving back in New Zealand by SMS. Of course, I have been self-isolating and sticking to the rules. Only when I went for a walk up the hill or around the township I have left the house, my grocery shopping has been done by my partner, I have remained in my house and garden.

But with this SMS, police contradicted their tracking procedures.

It has been widely reported and I have seen and heard it out of the mouth of Mike Bush, the now retired Police Commissioner, in a media conference, saying that their phone tracking system only works if the person they want to track gives their consent, and that police are following up directly with those who refuse permission.

The procedure was described as follows:

People receive a text asking for consent to be contacted, and are then asked to click on a hyperlink to share their location.

This is not true.

I received two identical text messages within two minutes, and they didn't ask for consent. Instead they already contained the hyperlink, and when you clicked on it, you got to a page where a mechanism was rattling in the background to determine your location. Underneath there was a message, saying that alternatively you could answer the text and send a photo.

I opted for the latter and closed the tracking page immediately, as I had doubts as to whether after the tracking the consent option would come up, allowing the police to track you around the clock like released prisoners on parole or hardened criminals on an outing.

I answered that I was at the self-isolation address given on my arrival card and sent a photo of the location. A day later I was contacted by Healthline, checking if I was ok or had developed symptoms of Covid 19.

I hope that missing to send the consent SMS first was only a glitch of the new system and not an attempt to trick people into being tracked without consent. Perhaps that's the reason why - as was reported by RNZ and The Press - only half of the contacted people "who consented to being contacted" since Tuesday responded to the SMS.

Did they really all have the option to consent to being tracked? I didn't.

New Lockdown Law

It is good that the Government has clarified which activities have to be avoided in order to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission and that it has released a new lockdown law today which specifies these activities, as many individuals are clearly too stupid to see sense in the requirements.

People cannot leave home to hunt, tramp (= hike), swim, take part in other water-based activities, such as surfing and boating, or do anything that may put them in danger or require help from rescue services.

The rules [additions in such brackets added by me]:

• Everyone in New Zealand is to be isolated or quarantined at their current place of residence except as permitted for essential personal movement

• Exercise is to be done in an outdoor place that can be readily accessed from home [and does not require a two-kilometre car drive as practived by Health Minister David Clark to go mountainbiking] and two-metre physical distancing must be maintained

• Recreation and exercise does not involve swimming, water-based activities (for example, surfing or boating), hunting, tramping [= hiking], or other activities of a kind that expose participants to danger or may require search and rescue services

• A child can leave the residence of one joint care-giver to visit or stay at the residence of another joint care-giver (and visit or stay at that residence) if there is a shared bubble arrangement

• A person can leave their residence to visit or stay at another residence (and visit or stay at that residence) under a shared bubble arrangement if:

- one person lives alone in one, or both, of those residences; or

- everyone in one of those residences is a vulnerable person.

It is also good that all this is clarified now because the now retired Police Commissioner Mike Bush had constantly spread the message that people going into self-isolation at home after returning from overseas were not allowed to leave the house.

The Government had said the opposite, telling these people that they were allowed to do essential activities, as listed above. I had specifically enquired about it at Auckland Airport when interviewed by Healthline workers because the mixed messages had confused me. They even said it was good to exercise and that I just had to keep the safety distance of two metres.

I got the same information during the Healthline call yesterday.

Of course, all these restrictions are a matter of trust. But it clearly shows that most returning Kiwis are complying with the rules and a lot of nutters who have not been away are flaunting the rules and putting other people's lives at risk.

Ok, the New Zealand police have admitted they have not been able to check on every returning Kiwi in self-isolation by visiting them. But other claims remain and are not true.

The SMS I received from police on Friday, 3 April 2020.

New lockdown law from today, see below police article in the main column.