Chinese “Spy Glasses” Trample Civil Liberties as they Stare Crime in the Face
Police in China have a new tool in their arsenal against crime, as of their Lunar New Year in early February 2018. Facial recognition glasses let officers ID everyone they see – without any probable cause and without any private citizen’s consent.
Railway police in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province in central China, are testing the black-tinted eyewear to screen passengers, verify identities, spot impostors using fake IDs, and apprehend suspected criminals.
The technology behind China’s “spy glasses” resembles that used in Google Glass. Each remote ocular device connects to a police database that can match passengers with criminal suspects – or ordinary people.
Zhengzhou railway police reported the successful identification of seven criminal suspects engaged in activities ranging from human trafficking to hit-and-run accidents.
The strange thing is, people in China don’t seem to care that they have no more privacy when outside their homes in public places. Or perhaps they are simply keeping their mouths shut about it? Trained from childhood to follow the government’s mandates and never question authority, anyone who disagrees with the official Communist party line is swiftly silenced.
The official party line, in this case, is that the Chinese people value safety over privacy.
From the western perspective, it would be easy to conclude that people in China are brainwashed into complete acceptance that “the good of the many outweighs the good of the few.” This is a slippery slope for any good theologian to debate, but the idea becomes a bit frightening when taken in a statist context since the ends justify the means.
Alibaba is the biggest online commerce company in China. It has three main sites: Taobao, Tmall and Alibaba.com with hundreds of millions of users spending freely at millions of merchant sites. Deemed the most popular cyber shopping center, total online sales last year came to $248 billion (with a ‘B’) – more than eBay and Amazon combined!
In the city of Hangzhou, Xian-Sheng Hua is the Alibaba Artificial Intelligence (AI) Manager who oversees a municipal surveillance network tied to a central computer which the Chinese government has been testing since October 2016 to control traffic and crime.
What exactly is being monitored? Everyone’s social media activity, purchases, traffic commutes, who they are interacting with, and their general movements, that’s all.
Can you say, “Big Brother is Watching?” (We thought you could.)
The city-wide security system features hundreds of thousands of cameras placed throughout the city that feed Alibaba tracking information on cars and any criminals who happen to be driving them. “If someone breaks the law, they can be tracked throughout the city before being picked up by the police,” writes New Scientist.
Authorities claim the system has reduced incidents of both traffic problems and criminal activities.
Plans are being made to roll out the new Big Brother Net across the land. The Huffington Post revealed these astonishing statistics in December 2017:
“Across China, a network of 176 million surveillance cameras, expected to grow to 626 million by 2020, keeps watch on the country’s over 1.3 billion citizens.”
You may remember when BBC correspondent John Sudworth went to Guiyang, a city in southern China with about 3.5 million people, to see how long it would take police to find him? The “suspect” was in police custody in seven minutes. Chew on that.
In a brilliant example of how Chinese state-fed propaganda manifests itself through individual people, at the 2016 World Summit AI meeting, Alibaba’s Hua demonstrated the convoluted thinking born from mind control:
“In China, people have less concern with privacy, which allows us to move faster.”
Although Hua didn’t make it clear, filling in the linguistic gaps, he seems to be saying that the advantage of a state-run dictatorship with a submissive citizenry is that people concerned with privacy or other little concerns about human rights issues can’t block progress in spy tech – Hua’s field. Talk about job security.
More insight on the relationship between Big Brother and Big Data comes from Sixth Tone:
“Tech companies have become close collaborators with government agencies. Soon, a national facial recognition database will store information about the country’s 1.3 billion citizens, and be able to identify them within three seconds, according to an October report by the South China Morning Post.”
Another report from The Wall Street Journal, via The Verge says:
“The sunglasses being deployed in Zhengzhou are built by Beijing-based LLVision Technology Co. The company’s chief executive Wu Fei told the publication that LLVision worked with local police to develop the technology to suit their needs.”
As China works to complete a nation-wide facial recognition database that will contain info on all of its 1.3 billion citizens, privacy advocates, and human rights groups like Amnesty International, which made this statement in July 2017:
“The Chinese authorities must end their ruthless campaign of detention and torture of human rights lawyers and activists. This vicious crackdown marked by arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detentions, torture and ill-treatment and fake confessions must end now.”
History is written by the winners, and the oppressive Communist regime in China is painting a very rosy picture of the view as seen through the dark glasses of facial recognition.