Community Development Opinions Science and Technology

Tech surveillance in China trampling on citizens’ privacy

Facial recognition technology Photo credit: Quartz

By Own Correspondent

Recentlyy, facial recognition systems have made a big splash in China, spreading across the country like wildfire. The rapid acceleration of these applications in recent years has shown that 50% of the respondents think the technology is being abused while 40% suffer privacy losses due to leaks and abuse of facial information.

Many residential communities in Beijing and Shanghai who installed facial recognition system that collected residents’ facial information at the entrance have led to public concern over personal information abuse and privacy being invaded. Residents in various districts have even refused to provide facial recognition saying that the community managers are not eligible to collect information as the system was installed without the community’s opinion.

Anxious about personal information security including information about time and duration an individual stays at home as well as the risk of information being misused or leaked totally invades people’s privacy, residents chose to reject the information collected. From physical and online capacity to residential compounds to payment apps, everything in China has raced to make use of facial recognition systems. But the ways in which this system works is often malfunction with no adequate amount of consent gathered.

The explosive adoption of a surveillance system by China to identify its people by matching their faces against the image database is definitely unreasonable and illegal. For example, there is no legal basis to force the residents to use the system. Owing to the fact that the convenience of more advanced technology comes with the cost of privacy, China must take into account that such rampant abuse and frequent leaks of data will definitely undermine people’s confidence in the technology.

China’s aggressive development to fulfill its aim to dominate the global artificial intelligence industry with the whole of China blanketed by surveillance system including the use of facial recognition system and fingerprints offers a wide window on how technology can be twisted to enable a complete crackdown on actions of ordinary people, their freedom and life as a whole. China has definitely played with such mastery. Its authoritarianism is evidently gamified giving it an easy edge to tighten its grip on every aspect of society, maliciously maintaining surveillance effectively than ever before.

With surveillance technology, China thinks it can achieve the level of control over people’s lives that it longed aspired for. From tracking where people are, what are they doing, who they come in contact with, What they believe, even assigning them social credit score, every movement, and action of its citizen in the physical world is swept into this Dragons dragnet.

The Chinese citizens are gravely thriving under surveillance to an extent that even their conscience has become collective. Street cameras classify passersby’s according to gender, hair length, etc. tracking them from one surveillance system to another. Thus, the Chinese authorities have adopted facial recognition as a potent tool to maintain complete control of Chinese society.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende