“China hands out location-tracking smartwatches”

From Karen Chiu of Abacus News:

A district government in the southern city of Guangzhou recently distributed free location-tracking smartwatches to about 17,000 students from 60 elementary schools, according to Guangzhou Daily. The aim, the government says, is to help parents supervise their children.

…Authorities maintain that participation in the scheme is voluntary. They also say that users’ personal information will be verified and stored in a database run by the police and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. More than 8,000 people are said to have signed up so far.

I’ve written before about related developments.

Earlier this year, Chinese social media erupted in anger when a blogger revealed that a high school was trying to purchase 3,500 radio-tracking bracelets to monitor students on campus. Some questioned if the school had the right to track students. Others wondered about the risk of a data leak.

In another case, it was revealed that several schools had been asking students to wear GPS-tracking uniforms. While one school said the aim was to monitor student attendance, some netizens suggested that the technology is more suitable for prisoners or pets.

Unlike these previous initiatives, though, the latest project in Guangzhou has the official backing of multiple government agencies. It’s part of a government showcase aimed at demonstrating civilian applications of BeiDou, originally built for the Chinese military as an alternative to the United States-owned GPS.

D and I talked yesterday about whether, if we get a dog as a pet, it should have a tracking device implanted.  She said “Absolutely.”

I asked if we should have one for her.  She didn’t like that idea.