With this new app, it allows users in China to check and see if they might have come into contact with people who are either known carriers of the virus, or who might be suspected of having it. According to the Chinese government, they have defined “close contact” as people who work together, share a classroom, or live in the same house.
It also applies to medical staff who might have been in contact with patients who have the virus, and also passengers and crews of public transportation systems like trains, planes, and so on. All users need to do is register with the app using a phone number, their name, and their ID number, and they can then check on the status of up to three ID numbers.
While some might find this to be a bit creepy and dystopian, some see the use of this data, at least in this situation, to be useful.
Speaking to the BBC, Hong Kong-based technology lawyer at the law firm DLA Piper Carolyn Bigg was quoted as saying, “In China, and across Asia, data is not seen as something to be locked down, it’s something that can be used. Provided it’s done in a transparent way, with consent where needed. From a Chinese perspective this is a really useful service for people… It’s a really powerful tool that really shows the power of data being used for good.”