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Virus-tracking app angers thousands in Moscow with fines

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Virus-tracking app angers thousands in Moscow with fines

MOSCOW (AP) — When nurse Maria Alexeyeva caught coronavirus at work, she isolated herself at home and followed the rules set down by Moscow authorities: She checked in with doctors regularly, didn’t leave her apartment and downloaded a smartphone app required by the city to keep tabs on quarantined patients.

The Social Monitoring app tracks users via GPS and sends them random notifications demanding a selfie to prove they’re still at home. If it detects they’ve left home or they fail to provide a photo, they face a fine of about $56 each time.

But soon the app became a nightmare for Alexeyeva. It crashed when she tried to take a photo. Weak with illness, she struggled with the software for days, sometimes on hold for hours with technical support. And when her quarantine ended, she discovered she had accumulated 11 fines totaling $620.

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“That’s more than my monthly wage,” Alexeyeva told The Associated Press. “This quarantine has been hard on me. And now I have to deal with this on top of it.”

Thousands of Muscovites also complain they have been wrongfully fined by the quarantine app. In slightly over a month, authorities issued some 54,000 fines, totaling $3 million among its nearly 70,000 registered users.

Authorities insist the fines were justified, issued to those who repeatedly violated quarantine. But the app’s users say it has glitches and flaws, sometimes demanding selfies in the middle of the night, adding that the fines were dished out arbitrarily.Moscow has been Russia’s biggest hot spot during the pandemic, recording nearly half of the country’s more than 414,000 cases. As the city of 12 million struggled to […]

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