Police raid home of Florida Covid-19 tracker creator

Florida police have raided the home of data scientist Rebekah Jones, who built the state’s official Covid-19 database.

Ms Jones has accused the US Department of Health of manipulating virus data in order to relax pandemic restrictions.
She posted a series of videos of the raid on Twitter, in which armed officers seized her phone and laptop.
The force said it was responding to a hack of the state’s emergency health alert system, which Ms Jones denies.
Ms Jones was fired from her job at the Department of Health in May after making her accusations, and has since maintained her own database, independently tracking the spread of the virus.
At the time, a spokesperson for the department described her as “disruptive”.
In the hack, which is said to have taken place in early November, an unauthorised message was sent to members of the emergency response team urging them to “speak up” before thousands more people died from Covid-19. The message was obtained by the Tampa Bay Times.
In a statement, Florida Department of Law enforcement commissioner Rick Swearingen said an investigation found the hack had been carried out at Ms Jones’s address, and a search warrant had been obtained.
He denied her allegation that guns had been pointed at her children during the raid.
“Agents entered the home in accordance with normal protocols and seized several devices that will be forensically analysed,” he said.
“At no time were weapons pointed at anyone in the home.”

‘New computer and a good lawyer’

Ms Jones has raised more than $65,500 (£49,000) in seven hours after setting up a fundraiser to help her with legal costs.
“Looks like I need a new computer and a hell of a good lawyer,” she wrote on the page.
In an interview with US news outlet Cuomo Prime Time, Ms Jones denied that she was sufficiently “tech savvy” to be a hacker and said she had not had access to any systems belonging to the Department of Health for more than six months.

She also said the phone which had been seized contained information about former colleagues who had shared information with her. Her husband’s and sons’ devices were not taken, she added.

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