As Chinese authorities expand use of health tracking apps, privacy concerns grow

SHANGHAI – China’s health tracking QR codes, which have played a key part in the country’s successful containment of the coronavirus, now look set to play a much broader role in daily life as local authorities dream up new uses for the technology.

Embedded in the popular WeChat and Alipay smartphone apps, the codes use self-reported and automatically collected travel and medical data to give people a red, yellow or green rating indicating the likelihood of having the virus.

To walk around freely, people in China must have a green rating and since February they have been asked to present their health QR codes to gain entry into restaurants, parks and other venues.

The codes had so far met with little public resistance, seen as a necessary tool to get the economy back up on its feet again.

Or that was the case until the eastern city of Hangzhou proposed on Friday permanently assigning each of its residents a coloured health badge and giving them a score from 0-100 based on their medical records and lifestyle habits.

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