China terminates COVID-19 trace tracking system “itinerary code”

December 13, 2022 2:04 am

Chinese authorities on Monday announced the deactivation of “itinerary code”, to better implement the newly optimized COVID-19 prevention and control measures.

Provided by China's big three telecom companies, itinerary code can track individual’s travel history in the past 14 days based on his/her cell phone data. 

This approach could help authorities identify those traveling to cities designated as "high risk" areas, or those who may have been exposed to diagnosed patients, for broader COVID-19 prevention and control efforts.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in early 2020, this system, together with "health code", has been used in most people's daily life.

The termination of the itinerary code marks a further loosening of COVID-19 controls in China. The country adjusted its COVID response, releasing 10 new measures on December 7, including allowing some asymptomatic carriers and mild COVID-19 patients to quarantine at home, and scrapping negative nucleic acid results and health code requirements for entering most public places.

Netizens are excited about the change, but they are concerned about how their historical data collected through their phones, which contains a lot of personal information, will be handled.

In response, the three telecom giants, China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom, assured users that, in accordance with the Personal Information Protection Law, all the travel history data will be deleted synchronously following the end of the COVID-19 trace tracking system.