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Alibaba's Alipay Partners with Chinese Government to Assign Coronavirus Status to Citizens

By Robert Izquierdo - Mar 2, 2020 at 4:28PM

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Alipay, the popular payment app, is being used to track Chinese citizens and determine if someone is a Coronavirus health risk.

In an attempt to reign in the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese government has partnered with Alibaba's (BABA 0.94%) sister company, Ant Financial, to create a color-coded health rating system that tracks millions of Chinese citizens. The system automatically assigns each person a green, yellow, or red rating indicating health status.

Doctor holding up an x-ray of lungs.

Image Source: Getty Images.

About the Coronavirus app

Citizens sign up through Ant's popular Alipay payments app on their mobile phones. China's official news media calls the system the Alipay Health Code. It allows anyone with a green status to be in public, using a QR code on the Alipay app to check in at public locations such as subways and office buildings. Those with a yellow status may be asked to stay home for seven days, and anyone with a red status is required to undergo a two-week quarantine.

Currently, the system is used in 200 cities throughout China, and is being rolled out nationwide. The system leverages big data to automatically assign a rating. An official Alipay Health Code website states the rating is based on factors such as travel to a virus hot zone. While Ant and the Chinese government declined to provide details on how Alipay Health Code works, the New York Times investigated the app and discovered it shares data about individuals with law enforcement.

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