Citizens of China had to download a digital "health code" system and in some instances without the app people couldn't re-enter their residence.
On April 14, 2020, ABC reported that the Chinese government had launched a software that analyzed its citizens' personal data to sort them into color-coded categories – red, yellow, or green. Each color corresponded to their health status and level of risk for COVID-19. The system is in use in 200 Chinese cities and allegedly shares information with the police. The codes dictate whether citizens should be quarantined or allowed to travel freely. Citizens must register for a QR code through WeChat, a mobile messaging app, or AliPay, a mobile wallet. QR scans are needed upon entry or exit from certain regions and enter apartments, workplaces, transit systems, and other public destinations. In addition to providing their name and ID number, users must register with facial recognition to obtain their colored code. In the same month,
CNN reported that although authorities were yet to make the health codes compulsory, in many cities, citizens without the app couldn't leave their residential compounds or enter most public places. New York Times reported that the software’s code also appeared to share information with the police. A Times’s analysis also found that every time a person’s code is scanned, their current location seems to be sent to the system’s servers. This could allow the authorities to track people’s movements over time.
Wired reported an incident where a man who lost his phone and documents was unable to pay for a new ID card without a phone, and without the ability to display a health code, he could not leave his apartment, worrying he would not be able to enter it again. Reported from a reputable publication and quotes of fears about it definitely raises concern that people could not enter their building without the app. Still, there is uncertainty about whether the app certainly prevented one from re-entering their building.
The use of this app has received a massive backlash from several human rights organizations. In a tweet, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth said: "An initial focus on health could easily become a Trojan Horse for broader political monitoring and exclusion."
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.