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Hong Kong sees rush for burner telephones as authorities pushes contact-tracing app By Reuters

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© Reuters. Outbreak of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19), in Hong Kong

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By Justin Chan

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Electronics retailers in Hong Kong have seen a pointy enhance in demand for reasonable burner telephones because the Chinese language-ruled metropolis’s authorities eases coronavirus restrictions however pushes the usage of a contact-tracing app which has raised privateness considerations.

The previous British colony noticed anti-government and anti-China protests erupt in 2019 and a sweeping nationwide safety regulation imposed by Beijing in 2020 in response, together with the arrest of most of its outstanding pro-democracy activists.

The swift authoritarian flip taken by the federal government, which denies curbing the rights and freedoms of the particular administrative area’s 7.5 million residents, has resulted in deep-seated distrust of public insurance policies, together with of measures to curb the coronavirus.

Well being Secretary Sophia Chan stated the app poses no privateness dangers because it solely shops knowledge on customers’ telephones and no third occasion collects it. The app notifies customers if they’d been in the identical place with an individual confirmed with COVID-19.

“I am shopping for a burner cellphone as a result of the federal government clearly does not belief Hong Kong folks, so why would I belief them?” stated Vincent, 28, an accountant who gave solely his first title due to the sensitivity of the difficulty.

Contact-tracing apps have sparked comparable privateness and belief points around the globe, from Singapore to the USA.

Hong Kong on Thursday lifted limits on how many individuals may sit collectively in eating places to 4 from two and the cut-off time for eating to 10pm from 6pm.

Eating places and different venues simply reopening, equivalent to gyms or magnificence salons, are required to write down down clients’ particulars or ask them to scan a QR code with the LeaveHomeSafe app, which authorities use for contact tracing.

Civil servants have been requested to scan the code earlier than coming into and leaving authorities places of work.

Within the working class neighbourhood of Sham Shui Po, a Mecca for reasonable electronics, greater than a dozen distributors advised Reuters they’ve seen a spike in demand for previous smartphones since final week, when the federal government introduced plans to ease restrictions.

“Individuals are simply on the lookout for an affordable smartphone that may run the LeaveHomeSafe app,” stated Wong, a vendor at Cellphone Home, who stated she bought 50 telephones previously week, in contrast with the standard 10 or so per week beforehand.

Different distributors reported a three- or four-fold enhance in gross sales of low cost telephones.

“I’ve seen much more folks asking about and shopping for older telephones over Chinese language New Yr,” stated Andy Kwok of Ah Ling Telecommunications. “I’ve needed to inform them the cellphone must be no less than on Android 8 (for the app) to run.”

The most well-liked cellphone was the Samsung (KS:) Galaxy J5, launched in 2015, now promoting for as little as HK$300 ($38.70).

The app has been downloaded 840,000 occasions since its launch final November, with greater than 70,000 venues collaborating within the scheme, the federal government stated this week.

($1 = 7.7524 Hong Kong {dollars})

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