Some Beijing residents have spoken out against local COVID measures after being forced to wear electronic monitoring bracelets.
The wristband, worn 24 hours a day for seven consecutive days, was issued to returning domestic travelers in the residential area of Tiantongyuan, north of Beijing. The bracelet is connected to a phone via the Internet and monitors body temperature every five minutes. The corresponding app has access to the phone’s location, camera and microphone, state-sponsored media outlet China Daily said.
The technology was developed by both the government and Beijing’s chip detection technology, backed by Tencent.
Users have raised suspicions about how it tracks whereabouts and what it does with data. Some of the wristbands were reportedly removed after backlash emerged on Chinese microblogging site Weibo, where it earned its own hashtag.
Beijing COVID Watchband
Instructions for use of the monitoring bracelet. Source: Weibo
One of the bracelet recipients was tech blogger Dahongmao, who shared his experiences with his more than 170,000 followers.
“If this bracelet can connect to the internet, it can definitely record my movements and it’s almost like wearing electronic handcuffs. I don’t want to wear it,” he said.
Dahongmao described in Mandarin his experience while disputing the need for the bracelet. “The transmitter said it was a requirement from above and I shouldn’t make it difficult for her. I said I didn’t want to make it difficult for her, but she could tell those who exceed her that I will not wear it If if you insist on me wearing it, you will need to present the documents that prove that it is a requirement of the Beijing government and that it is not an unlicensed company trying to make profit.”
A Beijing COVID-19 hotline separately informed the two China Daily and the South China Morning Post that the use of bracelets was at the discretion of a residential community.
“In modern society, awareness of people’s rights has increased,” said Yang Hongsham, a professor at China University. China Daily backlash.
Chinese cities currently require quarantine after domestic travel and have been known to fit doors with motion sensors, but this is the first time a tracking device has been reported in mainland China.
Hong Kong has announced it will use electronic tracking bracelets for its required seven-day home isolation this week. Meanwhile, Singapore has retired its tracking device, which it needed for international travel at the end of 2021. ®