Public pressure barely made a dent
China has quite the reputation for monitoring its citizens, and it feels like various parts of the country are constantly figuring out new ways to use gadgets to that end — RFID chips in cars, facial recognition sunglasses, and location-tracking uniforms for students each made headlines in the past year. Now, you can add sanitation workers with GPS-equipped tracking bracelets to the list.
On April 3rd, news broke that sanitation workers in Nanjing, China’s Hexi district were being required to wear GPS-tracking smart bracelets to not only monitor their location at all times, but audibly prod them if they stopped moving for more than 20 minutes.
Just one day later, the South China Morning Post reports, public pressure had mounted to the point that the local sanitation company decided to walk things back a bit — but only by removing the most obnoxious part of the system. Now, the bracelets will no longer say “please continue working” if a worker decides to stay in one place, but they’ll reportedly still track workers just the same.
It’s not clear whether that result will be enough to satisfy the public, but I suppose it depends on how the news is presented to them. Weirdly, the South China Morning Post’s headlines read “Workers freed from monitoring after outcry” and “Chinese workers freed from Big Brother style monitoring after public stink,” neither of which line up with the facts of its own story.