Most people are familiar with the idea that China is an up and coming world superpower. This may or may not be the case, as the Chinese government has a history of lying about their renewable energy progress and GDP, among many other statistics they have been caught outright fabricating. Regardless, it is plain to see at least in the major urban centers, that China is no longer a “developing nation” technologically speaking, even if its current tyrannical government employs political ideology as broken as the Soviet Union. Here we will take a look at the dark side of surveillance technology, which when manufactured for an oppressive state can create terrifying science fiction esque dystopian realities for its citizens.
To start, China has a truly massive drone surveillance program. Recently, they have even developed a type of drone which from the ground is almost indistinguishable from a bird. The drones even flap their wings instead of being fixed wing or outfitted with rotors. Alongside a fleet of regular drones, it is no surprise that China brags it now has the entire city of Beijing under video surveillance. Add to this the saturation of city streets with analytics capable cameras and it is safe as a Chinese citizen to assume you are being watched any time you step outside, and indeed even in your own home through cameras in televisions and phones. This is due to the fact that Chinese manufactured electronics are notorious for coming stocked with spyware and malware from the beginning.
What is China doing with this massive amount of data, including that which they collect on essentially every Chinese internet user? They use it to determine what they call a “social credit” score. This is a score of a person’s overall “social value” and it is compiled from everything from your internet search history to whether or not you jaywalk in the city. In Chinese cities, facial recognition software identifies every person, car or bike and reports its behaviors in traffic. Black marks on your record can come from everything you can imagine, from your use of alcohol to whether or not you purchase “too many” video games. All of this data is tied to your face and therefore your identity. Those with poor scores are restricted from many mundane activities, from buying plane tickets to sending your child to private school. In fact, there are already around 15 million Chinese who have found themselves on the wrong side of this largely computer controlled list. And because these decisions are the product of a computer system, there is nothing in the way of due process or appeal.
Perhaps the most horrifying reality of mass surveillance in China is the way that it is used to suppress dissent and identify “non trustworthy persons”. Within the last few months, a young woman was imprisoned for simply uploading a video of her splashing ink on Xi Jianping, the Chinese leader. Many westerners are not aware of the fact that even an act as harmless as this can and does lead to hundreds of thousands imprisoned in re-education camps and even locked away in psychiatric wards where their minds are often destroyed with heavy psychotropic drugs until they have had their personalities remolded to fit the narrative of the state. These gross abuses of power go largely unchecked, as China has a permanent seat on the UN human rights council. If this isn’t enough reason to avoid Chinese security products, I do not know what is.
Due to the presence of malware on Chinese made security goods, Security Technology of South Texas does not use these products in our projects. Anything we integrate into access control and surveillance systems is made by companies with no ownership or ties to any state, which is a good thing when you know the abuses of power associated with these Chinese products. These facts stand as an example of the kinds of misuse of surveillance and facial recognition technology that exist in some countries, and as a warning to the people of any free nation.
Security Technology of South Texas is happy to offer custom designed systems such as this from the ground up or integrated into existing infrastructure, where possible. We are available 24/7 at firstname.lastname@example.org on our website or via phone at 210-446-4863.