Two of the most popular apps in China are hosting a new health survey app to control the movements of Chinese citizens, following cities relaxing lockdown measures this week.
To travel, a user must complete the quick survey. The software issues them with a coloured health code, green, yellow, or red, which dictates whether they can leave the house and where they can go.
The survey is built on the popular WeChat and Alipay apps, two multipurpose apps used for social interaction to banking and finances are being used as hosting platforms for the health survey app.
Without one of the two apps, it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to live and work in China.
Taking WeChat for example, the platform is a more packed version of WhatsApp, however a user’s bank account is linked to the app which in turn is linked to the user’s address. This allows for efficient usage of being able to perform fast transactions between user to user and also allows the app to pay for goods and services through QR codes. Essentially, the app promotes augmented reality where the user’s natural environment is enhanced and can be digitally manipulated, with QR codes commonplace in China, inside every bar and restaurant, on public bikes and even on hire cars.
Augmented reality in China means turning one’s smartphone into a digital passport. WeChat and Alipay provide the user with a unique QR codes comparably akin to the chip in a regular passport. Now, in order to travel from Wuhan, the user has to complete the survey on their smartphone.
Once complete, the user receives a colour code either green, yellow or red. Green means you are free to travel, whereas yellow and red prevent travel. Yellow means you’ve had contact with another infected person but haven’t finished two weeks in quarantine. Red means you have, or likely have the coronavirus, symptoms of and/or waiting for diagnosis.
China already collects vast amounts of data on its citizens for policing purposes; such as the monitoring of WeChat communications as well as mass CCTV surveillance and facial recognition.