Named after the Ming dynasty’s imperial secret police, the Jinyiwei (锦衣卫) app, slated for release in Qingdao next month, promises users the old emperor’s treatment, a personal security detail available at the touch of a button. Qingdao residents and companies seeking hired muscle will have access to a network of more than 50,000 bodyguards affiliated with the service, many of them retired military veterans.
Li Shangshang, a developer for the company, told Qingdao News that Jinyiwei’s hiring process requires security personnel to upload identification documents and military discharge papers, enroll in etiquette classes and wear a uniform. He did not say if bodyguards will also be vetted for their height, attractiveness, and kung fu mastery, the characteristic attributes of the historic Jinyiwei, according to China Daily.
After video surfaced last week of the app’s prototype, which appears to ape the interface of China’s most popular ride-sharing service Didi Dache (dache: to hail a taxi), Chinese media jokingly dubbed Jinyiwei “Didi Daren” (daren: to beat someone).
Netizens took to social media to air liability concerns, scrutinize loopholes and entertain scenarios in which the app could be abused. How, a chorus of them asked, would the company prevent the service from devolving into a thug-for-hire vigilante justice scheme? One speculated that opposing sides of a bar fight might each use the app to find surrogates to settle their differences. Others cautioned that horny users would be on the prowl for hookups with muscle bound men, for which there is precedent in the misuse of a similar app released several years ago.
The buzz surrounding the app’s rollout was not all negative. Some netizens called it a viable anti-bullying tool and a useful precaution for women walking out alone late at night.
Pressed to allay some of the concerns over liability and thuggery in an interview, Li Shangshang was vague. “We are a safety escort service, but in maintaining security we are beholden to national law,” he said. “It’s not like we’ll help someone who wants to use the software to carry out an assault.”
By Henry Knight
[Images via Pear Video]
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