Chinese government launches app warning citizens if they have approached someone infected with coronavirus
With the death toll in China continuing to rise from the coronavirus, the government has activated all the tools at its disposal for a massive surveillance of all its citizens. It has paid more attention to those citizens who are on the move, in order to try to slow down the spread of the disease.
For this purpose, it also released a mobile application that informs users if they have been found or are close to someone who has been infected with the coronavirus.
This application is called "close contact detector" and according to the state news agency Xinhua, Chinese citizens can access it by scanning a special QR code through well-known applications such as WeChat and QQ. After scanning the code, the user will be taken to a form where they will be able to enter their name, phone number and government-issued ID. The app will then let the user know if they have been in close contact with someone who is infected or suspected of being infected with the coronavirus
The application defines as "close contact" people who were on the same plane or train with an infected person, people who work in the same office or attend school in the same class, people who are close to medical staff or family members who were around those who had been infected with the virus. If the app notifies the user that they have been in close contact with someone who has been infected with the coronavirus, then they are advised to stay at home and contact the health authorities immediately.
While the app has its advantages and looks like it can at least help prevent the spread of the disease, it is also a worrying reminder of how closely China monitors its citizens, knowing so much about them, that it can comfortably say that someone was on the same train or at the same doctor as someone else.
By extension, we can not help but think that existing technology can easily bring us face to face with a big brother, and how right he was. George Orwell when he wrote in 1984.