This article originally appeared on ABACUS China’s newest weapon in battling the spread of the coronavirus? Location data from mobile users. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced on Thursday that it launched a new service allowing Chinese telecom subscribers to receive a list of provinces and cities visited within the last 14 days via SMS. The country’s three state-owned mobile service providers -- China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom -- started sending messages to users asking for authorization to send them their location data. Users can also send an SMS inquiry on their own and after an authorization process, see where they’ve been over the last 14 days. But the data sent doesn’t get very specific. Screenshots of inquiry results circulating on Weibo only show the names of cities and provinces. Han Xia, director of the ministry’s Information and Communications Administration, said today that the service can help conduct screening for potential carriers of the deadly virus, especially as authorities have given the green light to resume work after an extended Lunar New Year holiday. Some cities in China have introduced entry restrictions to control the spread of the new coronavirus. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.