Home News Beijing removes its anti-Covid travel tracking app

Beijing removes its anti-Covid travel tracking app

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New symbol of the release of “zero Covid”. China announced on Monday, December 12, the shutdown of the main anti-Covid travel tracking application, used to check whether residents have passed through an affected area.

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This announcement comes as the number of cases seems to be exploding in the country, on a scale that is still difficult to assess because PCR tests are no longer compulsory and individuals only rarely inform the authorities of their positive self-tests.

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called “Travel map”, the application was based on the telephone boundary and allowed its users to show their interlocutors (hotel, building, shopping center) the cities in which they had visited during the last seven days. If none of these places were classified “high risk” (i.e. with a large number of cases), the application displayed a green arrow, synonymous with passage authorized.

End of large-scale lockdowns

The “Travel map”under the responsibility of the central government, will be deactivated from midnight Tuesday morning, after more than two and a half years of service, according to an official statement.

The move comes after China announced on Wednesday a sudden and drastic easing of health measures – a stark departure from its policy. “zero Covid” intended to prevent death.

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The government had notably announced the end of large-scale confinements and the end of the systematic placements of people who tested positive in quarantine centers – decried establishments, with very variable comfort.

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The Health Ministry on Monday reported 8,626 new local cases of people who tested positive in China. This figure has fallen sharply in recent days but does not reflect the reality of the current epidemic wave, which is going under the statistical radar.

” Good riddance “

One of China’s most respected figures in the fight against Covid, respiratory disease specialist Zhong Nanshan, said on Sunday that the Omicron variant is “spread rapidly” in the country.

Until last week, most Chinese did not know anyone around them who had ever had Covid. But for a few days, in an extremely sudden way, the opposite is happening, especially in Beijing, noted AFP.

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The “Travel map”a national application often used for inter-province travel, evolved alongside local applications, which continue to function and are the main ones used on a daily basis to enter restaurants, stores and buildings.

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“Ciao ciao! It all signals the end of an era.reacted Monday a user of the social network Weibo. ” Good riddance “declared another Internet user, delighted with the disappearance of the “Travel map”. “Next step: make all these local applications disappear”underlined a third.

What about data?

However, some Internet users wondered what will happen to the mass of data collected by the application. “I hope there will be ways and measures to disconnect and remove all that”underlined a user.

Launched in early 2020, the application was powered by telephone boundary data from the three Chinese mobile operators.

The vagueness remains on the conservation of data and on the continuation or not of their collection. Because the application itself did not collect anything, it was only the interface which made it possible to display the results of the collection of information.

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“The app may disappear, but the data is still there”underlines the analyst Kendra Schaefer, specialist in the subject within the Beijing firm Trivium China.

The government “gains more than he loses by getting rid of” of this application because “the cost of maintaining such a system must be enormous”she added on Twitter.

“Will this data turn into another tracking system? One could say that it already is. Because these same datasets are already used in tons of applications (in China), many of which are beneficial to society, but some of which are geared towards mass surveillance.”

Despite the spread of the virus, the easing of travel restrictions is boosting the airline industry in China. The number of flights in Beijing’s two main airports should thus ” in the near future “ reach 70% of what it was in 2019, public television CCTV said on Monday. Currently the number of international flights is equivalent to 6.68% of the 2019 level, according to the specialized site VariFlight.

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