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China pushes for total surveillance with new facial recognition program

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In the past five years, the United States has gone through intense debate on the importance of personal privacy, with former NSA analyst Edward Snowden bringing forth evidence on national surveillance programs. While we as United States citizens have a constitutional right to our privacy given to us by our 4th amendment, Chinese citizens are not afforded this protection. Facial recognition is the newest obsession with the communist Chinese government pursuing new technology in order to better conduct surveillance of their people.

cameraTraditional CCTV footage taken in Beijing now uses a facial-recognition program system called Face++, which allows for government officials to build a nationwide directory of its citizens using artificial intelligence. This new tech is being implemented in banks, airports, hotels and even public restrooms, and is highly supported by the police and the security state.

The end-game with this system of facial recognition is much more sinister in nature, seemingly straight out of an episode Black Mirror. The Chinese government plans to implement all existing surveillance cameras in public and private areas, and integrate them into a nationwide surveillance program that will share real-time data with the security state. This program, called, “Xue Liang” can be translated as “Sharp Eyes”, and will give the government incredible power over its citizens. With the massive amount of video surveillance being conducted, they will also utilize artificial intelligence programs to track suspects, coordinate emergency services, and track the movement of its 1.4 billion citizens.

With this massive amount of data pouring in, Chinese officials will be developing a database called “Police Cloud” which will have the goal of gathering personal data on every citizen in order to develop a social profile that can be easily pulled up by the government. This data includes travel records, medical records, online purchases, social media comments, and internet browsing history, which will then be linked to the persons state ID and face.

So what is the end goal for this program? Well, security industry reports show that China wants to assign to each of its citizens a “social credit” score, which is based upon a variety of factors, including whether they can be trusted based upon who they speak to, what they search on the internet, or what types of things they purchase. The very nature of this entire mega-surveillance plan is a callback to former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, who wanted each and every Chinese citizen to spy on each other. It is truly a real life 1984 in the making, and it is only a matter of time before it is fully realized.

With massive state-sponsored contracts, these surveillance programs are being implemented with the help of top graduates from U.S. universities, as well as former employees of tech giants like Microsoft and Google. With the amount of money to be made from contracts given by the Chinese government, these start-up companies who are aiding in developing this mass surveillance program seem blissfully content in stomping over the personal privacy of a billion people. The scary part is whether other nations will follow suit in Chinese footsteps, and implement similar surveillance programs.

Avid writer and reader with a curious mind, I'm always looking to get the most out of life! Follow me on Twitter @whatsaschoon

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