‘Big data’ segregates millions in China’s coronavirus fight
On Valentine’s Day, a 36-year-old lawyer in eastern China discovered he had been coded “red.” The lawyer, Matt Ma, was effectively put in chains. The color, displayed in a payment app on his smartphone, indicated that he needed to be quarantined at home even though he was not sick.  Without a green light from the system, he could not travel from his home village to the eastern city of Hangzhou, or make it past the checkpoints that have sprung up across the city as a measure to contain the new coronavirus.  Ma is one of the millions of people whose movements are being choreographed by the government through software that feeds on troves of data and spits out orders that effectively dictate wh
Facial recognition is everywhere in China. People are worried about it 
In China, surveillance cameras equipped with facial recognition technology are often hailed as important tools for improving security while offering convenience.  But as these devices become more pervasive, some Chinese people are questioning whether facial recognition comes with its own set of safety and privacy concerns.    According to a survey published on Thursday, 74% of respondents said they would like to have a choice between traditional identification methods (like keycards) and facial recognition technology.  More than 40% surveyed worried that their biometric data could be abused by irresponsible operators. Of that group, 80% feared their data might be leaked by entities with lax
Beijing subway plans to ‘sort passengers’ with facial scan
When you take the subway in cities across China, you often have to go through a security check before being allowed to board the train.  The checks can vary from a simple bag search to going through an airport-style scan in metropolises like Beijing. The procedures were implemented after a 2014 knife attack at a railway station in southwest China, in which 31 people were killed. This week, an official in charge of Beijing’s subway network made international headlines when he revealed a proposal to sort passengers into “different categories” by scanning their faces, prompting heated online debate over the increasing use of technology for social control.  At a forum on public transportation on
Life in the world’s most surveilled city
After a long, exhausting shift driving his taxi, 33-year-old Wu Fuchun pulled over to find a bathroom. Five minutes later, a message popped up on his phone saying his car had been parked in the wrong place, in violation of traffic laws. What came next was three penalty points on his license and a fine of $28. Far from being surprised, Wu accepted his fate, as being fined like this is nothing new in Chongqing, officially the world’s most surveilled city. As of 2019 Chongqing had about 2.58 million surveillance cameras covering 15.35 million people, meaning about 168 cameras per 1,000 people and even higher than the number in Beijing, according to an analysis published in August by Comparitech
First day of school? Get ready for a face scan
Freshmen at a number of prestigious universities in China are getting enrolled through face scans, underscoring just how ubiquitous facial recognition technology is in the country. The universities are now extending their use of facial recognition to the enrollment process, after its initial adoption in applications such as security and recording students’ attendance. China’s elite Tsinghua University was among the first batch of large academic institutions to implement face scans to expedite the registration process this month, when the school welcomed more than 3,800 new undergraduate students at its campus in Beijing. The regular academic year in the country starts in September, though ma
China has the world’s most surveilled cities, report says
Chinese cities are the most monitored in the world, according to a report by a British consumer website. If surveillance cameras are installed at planned rates, the country can expect to have one public camera for every two people by 2020, according to the report by Comparitech, which provides research on tech services.  In a ranking based on the number of CCTV cameras per 1,000 people, China has eight of the top 10 most surveilled cities in the world. The only two non-Chinese cities in the top 10 were London in sixth place and Atlanta in the US at No 10. The southwestern metropolis of Chongqing ranks first with nearly 2.6 million cameras – or 168 per 1,000 people. Shenzhen, in the southern
Decoded app exposes how China carries out ‘predictive policing’ in Xinjiang
A report by Human Rights Watch has revealed details of a mobile app being used by authorities in China’s far western region of Xinjiang to identify target groups for enhanced surveillance and monitoring. The document, released on Thursday, sheds light on the technologies – from big data analysis to facial recognition and artificial intelligence – employed by China’s security agencies to build an extensive system for social control in the predominantly Muslim region. The report said it provides “a detailed description and analysis of a mobile app that police and other officials use to communicate with the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP)”. The app analyzes information about local p
A Chinese tech firm hits back at ‘ill-informed’ spying accusations
The world’s largest maker of telecommunications equipment is trying to fight claims that it spies on you for China. Chinese company Huawei (pronounced HWAH-way), perhaps better known to consumers for its smartphones, is a huge manufacturer of devices that allow you to connect to the internet and things like Netflix. The company is bidding in Australia to build the country’s 5G network, a next-generation wireless technology that makes possible a much faster and more powerful internet. But the country’s intelligence agencies reportedly do not trust the company, citing national security concerns that have not been specified or publicly substantiated. In the past week, Australian media have rep
Bored kids, big brother is watching you
Bored Chinese schoolkids are out of luck, thanks to the unstoppable rise of facial recognition tech. A school in eastern China has installed cameras in classrooms to monitor pupils’ facial expressions and attentiveness in class, an online news portal has reported. A series of photos published on the Sina News website on Wednesday show three cameras installed on top of the blackboard at the 11th middle school in Hangzhou, in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang. The cameras, which the report described as “teaching assistants,” are part of the school’s “Smart Classroom Behavior Management System” intended to give teachers real-time information on their students. The school said it could u
China is reading its workers’ brains in the name of efficiency
On the surface, the production lines at Hangzhou Zhongheng Electric look like any other. Uniformed workers construct sophisticated equipment for telecommunications and industrial firms. But there’s one big difference: the workers are wearing caps which monitor their brainwaves. This data gets fed back into the system, allowing the company to increase overall efficiency by altering the frequency and length of break times to reduce mental stress. At State Grid Zhejiang Electric Power, also in Hangzhou, that selfsame technology has boosted company profits by about $315 million since it was rolled out in 2014, according to Cheng Jingzhou, an official overseeing the company’s emotional surveillan