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Hong Kong sees rush for burner phones as government pushes for contact-tracing app

"The government clearly doesn't trust Hong Kong people, so why would I trust them"

Updated: February 18, 2021 - 7:40pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Electronic shops in Hong Kong have seen a sharp rise in demand for burner phones as the city government pushes for the use of a contact-tracer app, raising privacy concerns.

The push for people to use a contact-tracer app on their phones comes after an easing of coronavirus restrictions by the Chinese-led Hong Kong government. 

Reuters first reported on the story, after talking to phone shops and Hong Kong citizens alike.

"I'm buying a burner phone because the government clearly doesn't trust Hong Kong people, so why would I trust them," said Vincent who is an accountant in the city and one of the people interviewed by Reuters.

Reuters also spoke with dozens of phone and electronic vendors who claim they've had an uptick in the sale of burner phones and cheap smartphones.

Hong Kong Health Secretary Sophia Chan claims that the app poses no privacy concerns and only stores data on users' phones, and doesn't send information to third parties.

This comes after last year's pro-democracy protests and riots that swept Hong Kong.

The contact tracer app notifies users if they have been in the same place as someone with COVID-19.

The United States' Centers for Disease Control also employ the use of contact tracers.

The government eased restrictions on the number of people allowed indoors together and dining cut-off times.