How does the app against Covid-19 work in China?

While France plans to acquire a contact tracking application, this is how it works, which is deployed in many cities in China.

While in France the development of a StopCovid application  to ensure the follow-up of infected people skates and is both controversial, it has been used for several weeks in certain countries, such as South Korea, Singapore, Moscow in Russia, or even in Germany at the beginning of the month and first, China. In the Middle Empire, tracing is done from an application that displays a colorful QR code . Presenting it is even an obligation in many cities. It’s the sesame that allows you to get out of the house, take public transportation to work, enter businesses and travel from one province or city to another.

Green: the door to shops, parks and restaurants remains open for the bearer of this QR-Code.  Alibaba's Alipay mobile payment applications, and popular messengers like Tencent and Wechat, manage the codes.  © v.qq.com

The principle is very simple. A QR code is generated from the user’s personal information, including the identity card and passport number. He should also provide his travel history and contact with patients who may have had Covid-19 in the past 14 days. It is also necessary to select the existence of possible symptoms that may evoke the disease. Once the information has been verified by the authorities, each user is assigned a QR code. This is displayed in red, orange or green on the mobile.

People with a red code must remain in quarantine for 14 days. Orange codes are confined for seven days. Greens can move freely. Depending on the region, the color system is more or less restrictive. Thus, in Hubei province , once a person is registered in the database , if he has symptoms of a virus , the closest people all receive an orange code prohibiting them from moving around the province.

A permanent police 

After their launch, QR codes were adopted in less than a week in 100 cities across the country. At the end of February the number of cities doubled, then tripled at the end of March. In addition to the QR code, in early March, Beijing added facial recognition to authenticate the bearer of the code.

The concern with these color assignments is that they wrongly impose quarantine on people who have sometimes indicated mild symptoms, having nothing to do with the virus, such as fatigue, for example. Some cities like Hangzou have made it possible to correct the situation with the possibility of rectifying the data online. The other concern is that many cities and provinces do not use the same national database, but local. For once, QR codes are not necessarily usable from one region to another. Likewise, restrictions may differ from place to place.

In China too, the thorny question of the protection of personal data arises. The databases recorded a lot of private information, movements, recent contacts, state of health. A subject that concerns the Chinese as much as the other populations concerned by this type of application. The problem remains the same: what about these data when the crisis comes out? Suffice to say that even after having suffered the epidemic for several months , China still has trouble tuning its violins.