Because of course they do and it’s not even weird, at this point.
Recently launched in China, the “close contact detector” app lets users know if they’ve potentially come into “close contact” with someone who has, or is suspected to potentially have, the coronavirus (recently named COVID-19). You simply put in your ID number, and three others if you have friends and family you want to keep track of, and the app tells you when you’ve potentially come into contact with the virus.
How? It’s not really explained, but China subjects its citizens to high levels of surveillance, so it’s possible they use a combination of the user’s location, video evidence, and medical records. It has to be a combination, because the app defines close contact as being nearby to someone (in the workplace, shared home spaces, public transport, airports, etc.) who is not using effective protection, is confirmed to be infected, has mild symptoms, or is asymptomatic. That sounds like an awful lot of data.
Those who discover they have potentially come into contact with COVID-19 are asked to stay at home and contact the local health authorities.
An app like this is probably very useful, given the seriousness of this outbreak, but that doesn’t stop it from also being deeply disturbing.
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