Over one year of pandemic, the Chinese authorities have coped with the infection, however, there are many things to do for preventing the spread of COVID-19. Now, the digital “health passport” or QR-codes raise privacy questions.
China where the novel pathogen was first detected is launching a digital “health passport” for its population of 1.4 billion. The idea is really reasonable but it raises privacy issues.
The Asian country follows a rhythm of digital check-ins, with QR codes as an integral barrier against corona that helps to track, trace and isolate patients.
However, the concerns over privacy are starting to overshadow the nationwide relative success in bringing the pathogen to heel.
In its efforts to curb the pandemic, the Chinese authorities offer users to scan a QR code to get a “green” pass in the health app. That becomes a common practice at most offices, restaurants, shopping malls, sports centres and transport stations.
Of course, the system is linked with the user’s ID and phone number. If so, it is used to track their contacts, assess their health risk and display the results of any recent COVID-19 tests or vaccines.
The nationwide app gathers geolocation data provided by phone operators, while other regional ones link to train and plane tickets, identity checks or screening tests.
Technically, the tracking app is not obligatory so far. But in practice, it has become impossible to move around China without it. That is the problem for the human rights activists who expressed their concern about privacy, in general.