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Hong Kong says “social responsibility” trumps privacy, will using tracing app to automatically track citizens

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Hong Kong authorities are looking to update the government’s contact-tracing app to automatically record people’s exit and entry times at venues. The Hong Kong government still insists “social responsibility” trumps privacy concerns.

On Sunday, Hong Kong’s Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Alfred Sit, announced that authorities were working with local universities to introduce “automatic recording” of exit and entry times at venues. It is now mandatory in Hong Kong to use the app to access public venues, restaurants, businesses, and government building. People who do not have the app are required to leave their contact information.

The tech secretary said the new feature will “enhance users’ experience.” He confirmed the Office of the Government Chief Information Officer was collaborating with the University of Hong Kong to bring the new feature. The idea is to use bluetooth devices installed at venues to record entry and exit times.

The feature will not require any input from users; the users smartphone will automatically connect with the devices at a venue and record the time at entry and exit. The University of Hong Kong is currently testing the new future on its campus.

Meanwhile, Baptist University is working on a feature that would allow the contact-tracing app, called LeaveHomeSafe, to automatically record the time a user alights a taxi. This feature will work using analysis of big data, and changes in location and motion.

The minister reiterated the government’s stand on dismissing any privacy concerns about the app. Apparently, people should be willing to sacrifice their privacy in favor of keeping the community safe from the coronavirus.

“Every single one of us shares this social responsibility and an obligation to fight the virus to help social activities get back on track,” the tech secretary said.

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