A former Covid-19 data manager was arrested Sunday for allegedly hacking into Florida’s emergency alert system to collect Covid-19 data.
Rebekah Jones, the woman who created and ran Florida’s online coronavirus data site, was arrested Sunday, Jan. 17, for illegally accessing the state’s emergency alert system in December.
Jones accused Florida’s governor and health officials of downplaying the severity of Covid-19 cases in the state.
Jones was fired from her job in May 2020 for resisting efforts by the state Department of Health to make the data harder to access for the public, researchers and the news media.
State police suspected Jones of setting up her own online dashboard of Covid-19 case data by illegally accessing the state’s EAH system and downloading personal data on Florida residents, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Authorities conducted a raid at Jones’ home and seized her computers, hard drives and 600 to 700 documents containing contact information for about 19,000 Floridians. The documents included phone numbers, email and home addresses, according to the arrest warrant.
Jones turned herself in on Sunday. A judge denied a prosecutor’s request to ban Jones from the Internet or require her to wear a GPS monitor.
Florida, Georgia and Texas are among the states that resisted lockdowns and have fewer Covid-19 restrictions.