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Chinese city in privacy row over plans to extend invasive health app 

A Chinese city has proposed expanding the use of a health monitoring app prompting an outcry over privacy concerns, Lya Cai reports.

Apps already in use nationwide generate a green, yellow, or red “health code” for each individual, based on a variety of criteria, including travel history and whether they’ve been in contact with infected people. Only those with green codes are allowed access to public places across the country, such as parks and subways.  

The new programme, suggested by local authorities in Hangzhou, will collate even more personal information: individual medical history and lifestyle habits, such as how many hours of sleep people get, their daily step count, as well as how much alcohol the person drinks and how many cigarettes they smoke.

The collective health status of a housing compound or a company will also be scored, with the rating calculated on the average amount of sleep and physical activity of residents and employers.

Each person and company will receive a score on a scale of 0 to 100, along with a QR code on a spectrum from red to green, with a number close to 100 and a greener code considered the “healthiest.” Rankings will be made public.

Nearly 90 per cent of 7,000 poll respondents on Weibo – China’s Twitter – voted against a “single code for health,” as described by Hangzhou officials.