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Beijing citizens criticize Covid surveillance devices

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Some residents of Beijing are pushing back against a Covid tracking device they are required to wear on their wristbands. Anyone returning to Tiantongyuan, a residential district in northern Beijing, is required to wear the device all day for seven days.

The device records someone’s temperature every five minutes. According to China Daily, the device’s corresponding app has access to the phone’s microphone, location, and camera.

Those forced to wear the device have raised concerns about how it monitors the location and what is done with the data collected. The development of the device was a collaboration between the government and Beijing Microchip Sensing Technology, which is backed by China’s tech giant Tencent.

One of the people that received the wristband was Dahongmao, a tech blogger who shared his experience with the device on social media.

“If this bracelet can connect to the internet, it definitely can record my movements and it’s almost like wearing electronic handcuffs. I don’t want to wear it,” he said.

“The issuer said it’s a requirement from higher up and that I shouldn’t make it difficult for her. I said I would not want to make it difficult for her but she could tell those above her that I won’t wear it. If you insist that I wear it, you’ll have to come up with the documents that prove that it’s a Beijing government requirement and that this is not some unlicensed company trying to make a profit.”

China Daily and South China Morning Post were separately told by a Beijing COVID-19 hotline that the use of the devices was at the discretion of the residential community.

Earlier this week, Hong Kong announced it would roll out tracking bracelets to enforce its mandatory one-week home isolation.

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