/Coronavirus: Chinas Hangzhou proposes permanent health tracking app – Business Insider
Coronavirus: Chinas Hangzhou proposes permanent health tracking app - Business Insider

Coronavirus: Chinas Hangzhou proposes permanent health tracking app – Business Insider


  • A Chinese city is proposing a permanent health tracking app that gives people a daily score based on their habits like drinking, sleeping, and walking.
  • It would be similar to China’s coronavirus tracking app, which gave people a color code that dictated whether they enter certain areas, and could track who they are near.
  • It is not clear if the new app would have the same use, or how the app will collect the data.
  • Privacy advocates warn that new tracking systems introduced during the coronavirus pandemic could become permanent or erode privacy rules around the world.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A Chinese city is proposing making a version of the health surveillance app rolled out during the coronavirus pandemic a permanent system that would score and rank residents based on their health and daily habits.
Hangzhou, a city in eastern China with around 10 million residents, has proposed a system that would give people a daily score based on their habits like steps taken, alcohol consumed, and how much sleep they got, CNBC reported.
Those details and the person’s health score would be displayed on their phone, where it can be scanned.
The proposal is similar to the health app that parts of China rolled out in light of the coronavirus pandemic, which gave them a colored health code which, when scanned, determined if they could leave the house or enter certain buildings.
The phone showed either red, yellow, or green, and used those results to control people’s movements as well as track where they have been and who they came into contact with.

china tracking code health coronavirus green

 

A composite image shows a smartphone screen with China’s existing coronavirus health app and a man scanning the app’s QR code at a subway station in Wuhan in April 2020.


AP Images

The app, first pioneered in Hangzhou, is still in use in parts of the country even though China has largely controlled the outbreak, CNBC reported.
Hangzhou officials announced Friday that they plan on making a version of it permanent, according to CNN.
The Hangzhou Municipal Health Commission shared images of the proposed app that shows it displaying a health score between zero and 100, and a color gradient that goes from red to green.
It is not clear if the new app would have the same use as the health-tracking app, or how it would collect data.

China coronavirus

 

Community health workers check the body temperature of a man in Hangzhou in January 2020.


Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

According to CNN, the commission’s director also said there could be a “group health score” for companies, which tracks overall employee behavior.
The older health tracking app has been installed in messaging app WeChat and payment platform Alipay, which is operated by Alibaba. Both are extremely popular apps in China.
Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate that owns Alipay, told CNBC that it has “not been contacted by any party with respect to this project.”
A spokesperson also said that protecting users’ privacy is “a strict requirement for all third party service providers on our platform.”

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Alibaba Group is seen at the company's headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, November 18, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

 

Alibaba Group’s logo at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou.


Reuters

The introduction of tracking apps and increased government surveillance around the world, in light of the coronavirus, has sparked deep privacy fears. Advocates worry that emergency monitoring measures could become public or influence the new normal.
The proposed app also mirrors China’s social credit system, which proposes ranking all of its citizens and punishes them for “bad” social behaviors like buying too many video games and posting what the government deems fake news online.
As Business Insider has reported, the system lets people be rewarded or punished according to their scores, with punishment including banning people from trains, banning their kids from good schools, or killing their internet speeds.
The system is being trialed piecemeal on millions, including in Hangzhou.
Some Chinese citizens have expressed anger at the proposed new app, CNN reported.
“Medical history and health checkup reports are personal privacy, why should they be included in health codes to show others?” one person said on popular microblogging platform Weibo.
“Points will be deducted for smoking, drinking and not sleeping enough, does this mean our lives will be completely monitored?”
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