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CHINA, May 27, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Officials in the Chinese city of Hangzhou have announced that they are considering the permanent use of an app, first introduced in response to the coronavirus, to continue to grade the health of individuals by assessing personal information including how much alcohol people consume and how much sleep and exercise they are getting.
During the coronavirus crisis smartphone apps have been used in China to track whether people may have come into contact with individuals infected with the virus.
Although use of such apps is reportedly decreasing in many parts of the country, officials in Hangzhou say that their new, broader proposals will provide a “firewall to enhance people’s health and immunity” after the pandemic.
In the new proposed system, individuals will be assigned a health score from 0 to 100, based on a number of factors including their medical records, physical assessments, as well as their drinking, smoking, sleeping, and exercise habits.
“The score can be affected by your daily activities: 15,000 steps of daily exercise will increase your score by 5 points, 200 milliliters of baijiu – a sorghum-based Chinese liquor known for its high alcohol content – will lower your score by 1.5 points, five cigarettes will cost you 3 points, and 7.5 hours of sleep will add one point to your score,” CNN explained based on information from the Hanghzhou Municipal Health Commission.
Reports note that it is not clear at this stage either how the app will collect such data or whether it will be made compulsory and rolled out nationwide.
But CNN notes that a number of Chinese social media users have raised serious privacy concerns about the new proposals.
“Medical history and health checkup reports are personal privacy, why should they be included in health codes to show others? Points will be deducted for smoking, drinking and not sleeping enough, does this mean our lives will be completely monitored?” one individual posted to Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter.
“During the epidemic we had no choice, but I hope after the epidemic individuals will have the right to delete the app, instead of normalizing (its use),” another wrote.
Lawrence Li, a Chinese technology commentator and privacy advocate, told the AFP that any such app should not be made mandatory.
“In the case of Covid [data collection] I think people willingly participated, but it’s another story if the government wants to make it the ‘new normal,’” he said.