China’s Coronavirus detection app is sharing data with police: Report
With more than 95,000 confirmed cases so far, Coronavirus is creating havoc around the world. The outbreak was first reported in China. Since then the Chinese government has taken a number of steps to track infected people and contain the virus outbreak. Among many measures being undertaken by government is an app that was rolled out in China last month for people to test if they have been in 'close contact' with those exposed to the virus.
According to a report published in the New York Times, the app called The Alipay Health Code, assigns colour codes to users. There are three colour codes in the app - red, yellow and green. While green offers unrestricted movement to a person, yellow denotes a seven-day quarantine, while red indicates a 14-days long quarantine.
The report further states that the app uses big data to find out if a person is at a risk to spread the virus and then it goes on to share data with the police. However, this process isn't direct. The app reportedly sends the users' location, city, and an identifying code number to a server that apparently belongs to the authorities. This data is shared with the server every time someone scans the code.
The constant sharing of data makes it easier for authorities to keep a track on day-to-day movement of the people who are affected.
While neither the company nor Chinese officials have explained how the system classifies people, assigning colour codes has caused a lot of worry among those who are being ordered to isolate themselves.
As far as the app is concerned, it is powered by Alibaba's popular payment app Alipay. It was first introduced in the eastern city of Hangzhou and it is now being used in more than 200 cities. As per a February 24 news briefing, officials have said that more than 50 million people have signed up for the health codes in Zhejiang, which is almost 90% of the province's population.