China Implementing Orwellian Health Tracking System
Alibaba and Tencent are hosting a new health code system that uses QR codes to indicate the health status of citizens.
BEIJING — Alibaba and Tencent will now host a new health code system that uses QR codes to indicate the health status of citizens.
Keeping the coronavirus at bay is priority number one for China now that many cities are coming out of lockdown, but could the coronavirus just be an excuse for China (and many other countries) to become more Orwellian? Well, take a look at the mobile health system China is now implementing to track its citizens.
According to a report from CNN, apps from Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent will now host a new health code system that uses QR codes to indicate the health status of citizens. This is part of an effort to contain the spread of coronavirus now that businesses are reopening in the country. Alipay launched the new system on February 11.
Chinese nationals have to input their national identity number or passport number along with their phone number into the system. Citizens also have to share their travel history and list what symptoms they may be experiencing.
After the information is officially verified, citizens are assigned a colored QR code depending on their health status. Green QR codes mean you are safe, yellow QR codes mean you came in contact with a sick person and red means you cannot go out in public.
Several businesses in China are now placing QR codes outside their venues so clients and customers can scan and show their health status codes to employees before entering a business.
Oh, and how many people are under this system? Well, according to state-run Science and Technology Daily, Tencent's health code system has been in use in more than 300 cities since March.
To be fair, China is not the only country that's tracking its citizens amid this pandemic. According to a report published in The Guardian on March 6, people in South Korea were receiving texts with information about the whereabouts of people that had tested positive for the virus. The texts were eerily specific and, honestly, too revealing of people's personal lives.
For example, one man and his secretary were being scrutinized after it was revealed that both had tested positive for the virus after they both returned from a trip to Wuhan.
According to ZDnet, the UK is also turning to technology to control the spread of the coronavirus. British authorities have confirmed that their National Health Service is developing a voluntary contract-tracing app to help curtail the spread of the virus.
We all knew this was coming — the whole blatant civilian data mining we mean. It was a matter of when rather than if. What do you think TomoSapiens? Is all this privacy invasion going to stick around even during post-pandemic days?
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