Chinese government rolls out coronavirus ‘close contact detector’ app


China has rolled out an app that lets people check whether they have been in close contact with someone infected by the coronavirus.

The “close contact detector,” as BBC puts it, notifies users if they have had exchanges with any individuals who have been confirmed or suspected of carrying the virus. All users need to do is scan a QR code with an app like Alipay or WeChat. People at risk are then advised to stay at home or inform local health authorities.

Once their phone number is linked, users are asked to fill in their name and ID number. The app can then be used to check the status of up to three ID numbers. The app, which was developed in cooperation by the government and the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, relies on data from from the health and transport authorities.

Although the invasiveness of the software certainly raises questions about the obtrusive surveillance practices within the country, experts believe citizens won’t see the new app as controversial, considering the extent of the epidemic.

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