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China's All-Seeing Eye 213

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-watches-the-watchers dept.
Greg Walton brings us a lengthy story from Rolling Stone which describes China's comprehensive surveillance project, dubbed Golden Shield. The 'Great Firewall of China,' which we've discussed in the past, is but one aspect of Golden Shield. It also includes national ID cards, CCTV networks, and face-recognition software. This investigation showcases just how massive an undertaking it truly is. When finished, it will dwarf London's surveillance system. Quoting: "Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed throughout the city. Many are in public spaces, disguised as lampposts. The closed-circuit TV cameras will soon be connected to a single, nationwide network, an all-seeing system that will be capable of tracking and identifying anyone who comes within its range -- a project driven in part by U.S. technology and investment. Over the next three years, Chinese security executives predict they will install as many as 2 million CCTVs in Shenzhen, which would make it the most watched city in the world. (Security-crazy London boasts only half a million surveillance cameras.) ... This is the most important element of all: linking all these tools together in a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history and biometric data. When Golden Shield is finished, there will be a photo in those databases for every person in China: 1.3 billion faces."
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China's All-Seeing Eye

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  • When finished, it will dwarf London's surveillance system.

    David Brin [slashdot.org] should be thrilled. Maybe we can nominate him as our ambassador to ask them if perhaps they might not mind filling in the missing details required to make this a true Utopia under his model. I'm sure he has lots of ideas for how that's supposed to work.

    • by akadruid (606405)
      Whereas Charles Stross will be thrilled to know we've got an export market for Scorpion Stare [wikipedia.org]...
    • David Brin should be thrilled
      Sometimes I wonder if Brin is playing a type of nuclear brinkmanship with privacy issues. As in, if we do as Brin says, and accept a completely "open" society without privacy as we understand it, then those who seek to take away privacy in the name of security will begin to balance their demands on our rights because they never really wanted that much access in the first place, they were just ramping up rhetoric as a bargaining tool.

      If he is, he's dead wrong. Law enforcement and the military at the top levels are operating more like totalitarian enforcers rather than protecting and serving. The operating mentality is that privacy rights of citizens only serve to impede these neo-totalitarian goals of law enforcement.

      In other words, law enforcement whether it's the FBI, Chinese government, or the City of Chicago, will ALWAYS take as many rights as they can in the name of providing security. They actually think that if they can only gain a certain level of knowledge, then they will be able to control practically everything, and thereby provide "security".

      These ideas must be fought on two fronts: 1. fighting for privacy in all forms. 2. seeking to change way people view what law enforcement can do.

      As for what a person in the US, like me, can do for China...well, that's easy, we must be outspoken in our rejection of American companies that are making money by helping the Chinese abuse its citizens.
      • by davester666 (731373) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:39PM (#23454738) Journal
        They always give these projects double-speak names such as "Golden Shield", "Happy Fun Safety Blanket" or "Patriot Act" instead of something like "Citizen Surveillance System".

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Starker_Kull (896770)

          They always give these projects double-speak names such as "Golden Shield", "Happy Fun Safety Blanket" or "Patriot Act" instead of something like "Citizen Surveillance System".
          Kinda like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea vs. the Republic of Korea... guess which one's the Northern one?
      • by AMuse (121806)
        It sounds like you might be misunderstanding David Brins' original point.

        He never claimed that society should give up all privacy in order to overload the officials with information. Instead, the central tenet of his book was that the people in power will always have far more ability to watch the "little guy" and there is a power imbalance.

        To address the inevitable power imbalance, he posited that society should become COMPLETELY transparent. That is, that we should have as much insight and surveilance of
        • I have been aware, and understood, Brin's ideas for quite awhile (as most regular /. reader), but your summary is a good one nonetheless.

          The first part was my thought that, since Brin's ideas are so silly, he couldn't be serious. I was musing about how he MUST have some sort of backdoor idea...theorizing about what that idea would be, and providing counterpoints to it.

          I don't like where he's going at all. He just obfuscates the issue, making it harder for strong privacy advocates to unite. The US is
          • by AMuse (121806)
            Justin: I agree with you, pretty much; there's no way we can get true transparency in government (And there are plenty of situations where that would be a BAD thing). We also definitely do need to elect some folks who will do much better in regard to privacy.

            Like other texts describing "absolute" philosophical standpoints, I take "The transparent society" to be a goal we should be working toward with equal vigor on both sides.

            The government should be permitted to surveil the people when necessary (criminal
    • nonsense (Score:4, Informative)

      by nguy (1207026) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:28PM (#23454660)
      Brin doesn't advocate a surveillance state. In Brin's vision, information is available about everyone to everyone, including government officials. The problem with a surveillance state is asymmetric information. In fact, I'm not sure Brin even advocates that; it's rather that he recognizes surveillance as inevitable and tries to make the best of it by reducing the asymmetry.

      As for Schneier's criticism, first, I think his arguments is full of holes, and second, he fails to come up with a better alternative. Surveillance is happening. What are you going to do about it?
      • by NetSettler (460623) * <kent-slashdot@nhplace.com> on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:48PM (#23454814) Homepage Journal

        Brin doesn't advocate a surveillance state. In Brin's vision, information is available about everyone to everyone, including government officials.

        Oh, I absolutely understand that. I saw him at a Computers, Freedom and Privacy [cfp.org] conference a few years back and chatted with him a little about this in the after-talk mingle, so I don't think I'm too confused about what his position is. At least I had a chance, while standing there incredulous, to ask him if he really believed that. (Those are great conferences, by the way, and there's one coming up in New Haven next week [cfp2008.org]. I don't have any clue if Brin will go, and don't much care, but there's always something good on the agenda in my experience, and I wanted to slip in a plug.)

        But my point is that it has to be at least a presupposition of his (or anyone's) if you're going to entertain this as other than a philosophical exercise to say that you have to "get there from here". So they've done part of Brin's vision--my point is: How do we get them to do the rest? Because I think the problem with Brin's vision is that you can't ever under any forseeable circumstances get everyone to do the rest. The world is always going to be full of power imbalances, and there will always be someone wanting to keep it that way. So it's just a fantasy to say it could be done. That's why I pointed to this article [slashdot.org] in my prior post.

        If Brin believes it's possible to motivate people to all at the same time do something in the public interest that way, first of all, his energy is better spent on getting people to all believe in Global Climate Change, because that's a much more pressing problem and affects us all and yet we can't get people to agree on that either. But either way, it's time for him to put his money where his mouth is, so to speak, and say what the next step is toward Utopia because I'm as tired of his proposed non-solution as I am of some of hearing of some of the non-solutions being pursued for Climate Change.

        • by nguy (1207026) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @03:21PM (#23455054)
          Oh, I absolutely understand that.

          Well, if you "absolutely understand that", then statements like "David Brin should be thrilled [about China's surveillance society]" are either deliberate misrepresentation or unacceptable carelessness.

          If Brin believes it's possible to motivate people to all at the same time do something in the public interest that way

          What makes you think Brin believes that? Maybe he merely believes that it is already useful to point out that there is a possibility for a solution that people hadn't considered before.

          his energy is better spent on getting people to all believe in Global Climate Change, because that's a much more pressing problem and affects us all and yet we can't get people to agree on that either

          Perhaps if you stuck to one big topic at a time and organized your thoughts and arguments around that, you, too, could make a contribution to the debate that is as valuable as Brin's. For even if Brin's solution turns out not to work or to be unattainable, it at least got people thinking about the subject in new ways. I don't see any contribution in your writings so far.
          • by NetSettler (460623) * <kent-slashdot@nhplace.com> on Sunday May 18, 2008 @05:39PM (#23456034) Homepage Journal

            Well, if you "absolutely understand that", then statements like "David Brin should be thrilled [about China's surveillance society]" are either deliberate misrepresentation or unacceptable carelessness.

            You leave out literary devices like sarcasm, hyperbole, and irony which require neither of those.

            I didn't misrepresent what Brin says, I didn't say that much about it, other than that I don't think it's a practical situation one can get to. And if he thinks otherwise, I was suggesting the burden is on him to show why.

            Maybe he merely believes that it is already useful to point out that there is a possibility for a solution that people hadn't considered before.

            Well, of course, the question of whether others had considered and merely discarded it is hard to measure. But more than that, he seems to be advocating at level that says more than "this is an idea" but more at the level of "this is a good idea". I happen to have an aversion to ideas that are potentially good if implemented completely and almost certainly bad right up until the moment of total completion...especially if failing to finish completely is what I percieve as the most likely outcome.

            I think this is what's behind people's clinging to the US Second Amendment, by the way. Giving away your gun if you knew for sure everyone else was going to might almost make sense, but if you thought anyone would be left who didn't, it explains why you'd be nervous. But cameras and guns are a lot similar in this regard.

            To some degree, the US Second Amendment protects the right of the people to maintain enough power that if a government ran out of control, the people could fix it. But no one talks about that any more because that would mean admitting private citizens have a constitutional right to own nuclear weapons, for parity. So now citizens can own deer hunting rifles and the government can own nukes. That doesn't achieve parity. Likewise with cameras, we're all allowed a pocket camera and the government is allowed a ubiquitous network of surveillance cameras. That's not the vision Brin is offering, but it is the more likely practical effect if you roll this out. Even if the government promised to allow parity, it wouldn't happen. Exceptions would be made and anyone who tried to find those exceptions would be rounded up more quickly than they could rouse rabble.

            Just saying it should happen right on its own and it's people's own fault if they don't just all decide to do it is vacuous. Like saying that the problem with crime prevention is that people don't all decide one day to be on the same side of the law.

            The beauty of language, and the joy of books of fantasy, is that it's possible to construct descriptions of things that cannot be. The burden of the citizenry in a democracy is to somehow discern plans for what can be from those that cannot. I'm not criticizing Brin's ability to spin a good yarn, I'm suggesting he isn't the right person to lead the real world to Utopia.

          • The parent's "brin would be happy comment" seemed to be partially tongue in cheek. Brin's ideas are no "solution" to anything. At best, he's misguided, at worst he's on the CIA payroll sewing seeds of dischord among privacy advocates.

            Brin's idea is interesting in theory, but that's it. It has a major flaw:

            The government will never be 100% open to its citizens. Sure, as some sort of purely philosophical thought experiment, the idea is interesting to ponder, but it has no relevance when discussing actual policy. Let me break it down further:

            1. Brin is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. If everyone just gave up privacy rights en masse in some Faustian bargain with the government agreeing to do the same it would be a tragic loss for the idea of liberty. To me, this is akin to the US surrendering to the USSR at the height of the Cold War.

            2. Even the whole of the US would not be able to watch the government close enough all the time to check its power and ensure it was not keeping secrets or having 'private' information in some way. This incorrect assumption is at the heart of those who support CCS cameras and other privacy invading tactics: no matter how much information you have, you cannot provide total security. It works both ways...citizenry to government and government to citizenry.
            • by nguy (1207026)
              If everyone just gave up privacy rights en masse in some Faustian bargain with the government agreeing to do the same it would be a tragic loss for the idea of liberty. [...] This incorrect assumption is at the heart of those who support CCS cameras and other privacy invading tactics

              There's nothing to "give up". With few exceptions, you don't have privacy when you leave your house. In public places, anybody can take your picture, and on private property, the owner can. Those rights are legally protected.
      • Surveillance is happening. What are you going to do about it?

        I suspect that people will get fed up with it eventually, and start taking matters into their own hands. Small, directed EMP pulses and other kinds of short burst energy can goof up the equipment. Baseball bats work well too, etc.. And, if you're not into that, legions of spray painters can do wonders.

        Of course then the government will start making the surveilance equipment more durable, and find ways to combat the damage, but eventually, one w
        • Of course then the government

          "The government"? What does "the government" have to do with it?

          Brin talks about surveillance by private cameras and sharing of the data on servers and market places. Are you going to hit me with a baseball bat if I dare use a camera in public? Are you going to smash my web cams? Are you going to smash Flickr's servers when I upload my geotagged photos to them?

          When you leave your house, you don't have a right to privacy. With few exceptions, anybody can take your picture, p
  • Ob comment... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BerntB (584621)
    1984, here we come.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hlt32 (1177391)
      You would be surprised how many Chinese people don't mind or even like this.
      • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

        by nurb432 (527695)
        That is because they have been trained/frightened for generations to accept this.

        They just don't know any better.
        • That is because they have been trained/frightened for generations to accept this. They just don't know any better.
          Or maybe they just aren't so paranoid. Seriously I don't think many of the people of London are particularly bothered by the numbers of cameras around. I certainly don't care that HM Government can follow me around if they choose to. Can you explain to me why I should?
          • by nurb432 (527695)
            For one reason its none of their business.

            If you honestly don't see a problem, then you deserve what little privacy / security you end up with at the end of the day..
            • For one reason its none of their business. If you honestly don't see a problem, then you deserve what little privacy / security you end up with at the end of the day..

              Well thanks for your insightful analysis, but that's not really an answer. I have my house, where I have a reasonable expectation of privacy, but on a public street anything I do can be seen by anybody who is around, whether or not it's 'their business'. People often complain when there aren't enough police on the beat. What's the difference?

              I'll ask again, what possible difference can it make to me if I'm caught on CCTV when I'm going to work or if I'm out shopping or whatever? Do you expect any ac

      • Why? Hardly anyone in 1984 objected either. Much of the novel is devoted to discussing how the propaganda arm of IngSoc was devoted to making sure that people thought the party was acting in their interests.
  • by lsolano (398432) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @01:35PM (#23454214)

    it also includes national ID cards, CCTV networks, and face-recognition software.

    Without a doubt, a face-recognition software in China is an incredible hi tech piece of software.
    • by styryx (952942)
      You mean the face recognition software provided by this American Company? [l1id.com]

      Damn!
    • by stock (129999) *
      Why does face-recognition software read to me as submission of mankind
      to machine?

      One should really wonder WHO is demanding this computer based
      face-recognition as any normal human being doesn't need such a pony
      show.

      Why has it become normal practice to store all of our phone and email
      data inside insane huge database networks? Again for a normal human
      being there's no added value in this, except for less obvious reasons.

      For many it has become evident that our average President, Prime
      Minister and Bundes Kanzler
  • goose, gander, etc. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dnwq (910646) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @01:39PM (#23454252)
    They don't work in the UK, or so we are told. Why should they work in the PRC?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Because in the UK people are used to freedom. They are used to being able to vote in multi-party elections, to choose goods and services, to make a profit. In China people aren't used to these things, chances are there will be very little protests because most simply don't know whats going on is bad. It is comparable to if all you ever knew was dial-up you wouldn't think that dial up was really that slow, however if you had a really really fast connection and all of a sudden you were on dial-up you would th
      • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:30PM (#23454678)
        The idea that anyone given a taste of freedom will want to preserve it is false. Look at Russia -- they're moving back towards a police state at an alarming rate, but the populace largely supports it. Given the choice between wealth (or at least comfort) and tight control vs. hardship and freedom, a great many individuals do in practice choose the former. Who are you or I to say that they are wrong?
        • You're right, but look at Russia? Look at the US. Look at the UK. It appears that a majority of people would rather be slaves-- no privacy, no decisions, as long as they are told they're at less risk, they're still eating, and they have their entertainment.
        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @04:58PM (#23455736)

          Who are you or I to say that they are wrong?
          I think we are right to say they are wrong because a lack of freedom eventually leads to reductions in comfort and increases in hardship. For example, see Amartya Sen's Nobel-winning research into the cause of famine -- he found that almost universally famine has been caused by leaders who were not accountable to the population (in a nut-shell, the leaders never want for food so without accountability they have little motive to fix the problems that lead to food shortages for the regular people). I feel confident in saying that a country can not have accountable leaders unless the population is free.
          • please mod parent up...makes excellent point and has a great example w/ the Amartya Sen research

            If a person has a right to liberty, they also have a right to give up that liberty. We do it in small (but ever increasing) amounts here in the US...it's the idea of the social contract [wikipedia.org]. However, as parent elegantly made clear, there is a point where accepting control for security becomes harmful.

            Now, I cannot hold a gun to a Russian's head and force them to want liberty (lesson from Vietnam that some c
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Because in the U.K., they are not used to detect thought crimes (yet)
    • who says they even work? All that matters is that the chinese judicial system acts as if they work.
  • by dretay (583646) <drew@NospAM.cs.umd.edu> on Sunday May 18, 2008 @01:44PM (#23454284) Homepage
    Is that is may come to the US. One of the rationals for extending US copyright was that we needed to maintain parity with the European Union. I could see some argument regarding anti-terrorism parity resulting in more surveillance here as well.
    • The "keeping up with the Joneses (EU)" rationale was an obvious lie from the start. The extensions to copyright were made for purely corporate reasons, and it was (is) an assault on society as a whole. Michael Eisner, formerly of Disney, is probably quite proud of himself.

      We had a perfectly workable system... arguably more successful that what the EU was using. So why mess with it? For profit, of course!

      It needs to be changed back to the way it was.
    • Any extension of copyright by the US was most certainly *not* to maintain parity with the EU but to keep control by Mickey Mouse (read general greed).
      There is no general duration of copyrighted works in the US because the US copyright system is a mess [bromsun.com]
  • from the article;

    This is how this Golden Shield will work: Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country's notorious system of online controls known as the "Great Firewall." Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and phot
    • by NetSettler (460623) * <kent-slashdot@nhplace.com> on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:23PM (#23454622) Homepage Journal

      In other words, we can find every political activist, dissident and extremist in China, using only five percent of our security/monitoring capacity.

      Governments, including ours, "sell" these societal strategies to their citizens as crime-fighting tools. The citizens like low-cost tools because they have fantasies about their taxes going down, etc. But also, J.Q.Public probably often assumes crimes are things like stolen purses or muggers. But such uses are very "small fry" and no serious government is going to build a whole societal surveillance system for so limited a purpose.

      Long ago, I had my car broken into in a major US city. When the police arrived, I asked them if they were going to fingerprint it, etc. It seemed plausible they would get some good prints. They just laughed. Only for capital crimes, they explained. It just isn't worth the time and trouble otherwise.

      And probably it's only used for capital crimes because they get public exposure. That probably accounts for why there are racial disparities in which capital crimes get followed up. Even there, it is (sadly) probably not really about the severity of the crime, it is more likely about its political impact.

      The real crimes, the ones that motivate a government, are those of disagreeing with who's in power in that government or what that power is being used for.

  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @01:46PM (#23454304) Journal
    ... not what they claim such a system will be used for but rather what it will actually be used for.

    Consider all the issues coming to light in pre-Olympic China, regarding human rights....
  • by florescent_beige (608235) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @01:53PM (#23454366) Journal
    Why is it that the authors of these various surveillance societies don't show good faith by building into their laws the requirement that the details of their own lives, being public servants and all, should be constantly monitored and broadcast.

    (Personally I would have loved to have the online Clintoncam available a few years back.)

    This falls right into the same category which results in that strange coincidence whereby the people who decide who gets paid how much just coincidentally always happen to be worth the very most themselves.

    Anyway. Bring on the revolution. It's starting soon I just know it...any day now...

    • by Lazarian (906722)
      "Why is it that the authors of these various surveillance societies don't show good faith by building into their laws the requirement that the details of their own lives, being public servants and all, should be constantly monitored and broadcast."

      Because their intentions are to rule over people with an iron fist, and if any semblance of dissent is detected with hidden surveillance networks, problem individuals can be conveniently disappeared. The fact that people don't even know when they're being watched

  • by overshoot (39700) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:00PM (#23454434)
    If a dog craps in China and nobody sees it, do flies still gather?

    The Brits are going to have to get serious if they want to compete on canine hygiene enforcement.

    • by rts008 (812749)
      Yes, but then who has to/gets to develop the Canine Anal Sphincter Recognition Software?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:02PM (#23454456)
    The sooner that totalitarianism is unmasked in all its horrible glory, the better. One of two things will result.

    Either the anarchist kids who do their best to undermine society will wake up to the threat... ...or they will continue as before, the totalitarians march in, and they will learn the true meaning of dictatorship.

    Lenin used the term "useful idiots" to describe the nattering spoiled brat self-proclaimed "intellectual elite" of Russia that cried for anarchism. Anarchists were quite successful in destroying Russian civil society, first attacking the wealthy capitalists, then the bourgeoisie, then the petty-bourgeoisie, and finally turning on the well-meaning social democrats.

    With all opposition swept aside, Lenin took over. His first act was to line all the useful idiots against the wall.
  • So our policy of exporting western values through capitalism is in fact giving a communist regime the technology to further control their people. "But isolationism doesn't work!" Oh yeah? I bet Kim Jong Ill is still using those birds from the Flinstones (that chisel out pictures of people on a stone tablet) for surveillance.

  • by SideshowBob (82333) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:12PM (#23454540)
    Washington and London are probably green with envy.
  • by 808140 (808140) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:13PM (#23454544)
    I don't doubt that the Chinese government would like to build such a system. I have no doubt that they would love, honestly, to actually have the power and influence that they are rumored to have in the west over their people, and to truly be the police state they are accused of being. The government there, like most governments everywhere, has an appetite for power.

    But the days of Mao are long gone. There was a time not so long ago when parents everywhere encouraged their children to pursue a career in the state, as a policeman or soldier or political cadre. In the socialist days, that was how you advanced, how you got a good life. The promise of wealth, power, but most of all prestige could be found in those careers. Not surprisingly, there were a lot of police and military folks in those days.

    Now, though, the situation has changed. True wealth and prestige come from the market, from private enterprise, and this simple fact is not lost on anyone in China. Parents are realistic about this. They don't encourage their children to enter the police or military anymore -- and if you are Chinese or even Chinese American you know well what "encourage" means when it's being done by a Chinese parent. The policeman and soldier's life is no longer stable or guaranteed, and besides being dangerous it generates far less income for the family than an office job (or, truth be told, even one selling fruit.)

    Because of this, there are not enough young Chinese entering the police force.

    To put this in perspective, Beijing has 10 million residents, around 4 million migrant workers, and a likely 2 or 3 million undocumented (illegal) residents. In a city this size, a small police force simply doesn't cut it.

    It's not for lack of trying, but mainland China simply does not have the infrastructure necessary to be the police state it wants to be and that the west fears it is. As Beijingers say, "guan bu zhao", there are too many people and not enough cops.

    So it's not the least bit surprising that this golden shield idea is the goverment's latest fantasy, a way to keep tabs on the populace all while circumventing the increasing human resources shortage that is crippling their once formidable security force.

    But that's all it is -- a fantasy.

    Sure, they'll put up cameras and buy high-tech imaging software, and maybe they'll be able to maintain that infrastructure in Wang Fu Jing, Xin Tian Di, and downtown Shen Zhen. But in the rest of China -- where the bulk of the population lives -- the notion is simply untenable.

    China has more than a billion people, and most of them live in small rural villages that lack sewage infrastructure and running water. The idea that the government would prioritize CCTV surveillance systems in these areas is laughable. They simply don't have the money, the experts necessary to put it up, or any of the other basic requirements for a system that size.

    You simply cannot govern a billion people by force alone. Nationalist propaganda can help get people to give you the benefit of the doubt, but once people are suffering the government gets the blame whether it deserves it or not. If you don't believe me, have a chat with a Beijing taxi driver about their wages, which are set by the government. They'll give you an earful. And that's in the capital. It's worse in the provinces.

    The Chinese government knows this, and they aren't fools. The polarization of wealth is a much more pressing problem on their agenda than putting up cameras, because they remember that it was precisely a wealthy upper class stomping on the rural poor that put them into power in the first place.
    • Citys are a danger, because if the workers in a city rebel, they can't be stopped, a city wide riot, barricades in the street, building occupied, the police can do nothing, you have to bring in the army then it is economic disaster for that city, and the whole country feels it, there's a risk of revolution. Unrest spreads quickly in a city, it has to be stopped when it's just one group or just one suburb. Thats why they sent tanks to Tianamen Square, put down the students before the workers joined the pro
    • Your English is very good citizen 808140. I imagine your loyalty will be rewarded as well. What Province of China are you from?
    • It's the cold war all over. I've heard that back then, Americans actually believed that the Soviets had the power to build a military base on the "dark" side of the moon.

      Now they believe that the Chinese have the power to have a "totalitarian" government (as opposed to "authoritarianism). It's just not possible.

      It's easy to control people when you have a fake enemy that keeps them focused upon, so that they would simply gloss over your flaws. Oh and Saddam had WMDs.
    • Or it could be a sophisticated ploy to create domestic demand for Chinese electronic goods. With the US economy sinking, they could have fears of an industrial surplus, a glut of cameras, tvs, and microchips, so they allowed themselves to be convinced that this program will help the economy as well as maintaining civil order. They don't actually care if it works, but of course if it does they will take credit for it. This kind of thing happens in the US all the time (the Bridge to Nowhere in Juneau), and
  • Nothng New for China (Score:3, Informative)

    by Comatose51 (687974) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:35PM (#23454708) Homepage
    I don't mean it's nothing new for the current Chinese government but also from a historical point of view. China has always had a very strong central government. A few years back I read Spence's Treason by the Book [amazon.com]. The amazing thing about the whole incident is that even during the Qing dynasty, China kept such good records of its population that it was able to very quickly track down and arrest the person who published a pamphlet/book that was considered subversive to the government. This was in an era before computers and databases and, IIRC, in the 1700s.

    My point here obviously isn't to justify it but to point out that an "all seeing eye" at the very least serves the purpose of stamping out opposition to the government. Just good record keeping and census as in the case of 18th century China was enough to track down a dissenting voice.

  • by NetSettler (460623) * <kent-slashdot@nhplace.com> on Sunday May 18, 2008 @02:36PM (#23454720) Homepage Journal

    Over the past two years, some 200,000 surveillance cameras have been installed

    Well, who can blame them really? They've got to be preparing to do something with all that high tech manufacturing capacity they've got once the economic bottom falls out of the US purchasing market.

    I can hardly wait to find out how the analogous situation in the robot manufacturing area plays out. Fortunately, with all those 200,000 cameras, I should have no trouble sitting back and watching it on TV. Robots can't move across water can they? No, probably only in science fiction [slashdot.org].

    Ok, that's silly. No one would ever do anything bad with robots. Let's just stick to the issue of cameras and overcapacity...

    Is this project at least "green"? Have they at least planned for environmentally friendly ways of disposing of this many cameras when version 2.0 comes along? Well, maybe the US can by them second-hand as part of some sort of secret arms deal when it hasn't the money to buy them nor the factories to make them. Reduce, reuse, recycle... It's a grand tradition in the international weapons market, which in some ways seems to have pioneered the whole "green" movement now that I think about it. But, oh, that's right. Cameras aren't weapons. Never mind.

  • This is an employment program! Think about it: 2M CCTV cameras @ X screens per watcher = 2M/X jobs x 3 shifts. Multiply that by the bureaucratic overhead factor of 2.5 (watchers of watchers and their watchers) and you have some serious job creation. That doesn't even consider the manufacturing and maintenance job creation to support the infrastructure.

    Now consider how many lawyers will be needed to operate the pro forma oversight litigation process. OK, maybe only 2-3 in China.

  • Corporations that have been aiding in this endeavor should have their corporate charters revoked NOW, with no reimbursement to stockholders, and sure as hell no compensation to corporate officers.

    DO LESS EVIL, Google. And so many others.

    Yeah, right.
  • by gelfling (6534) on Sunday May 18, 2008 @05:25PM (#23455936) Homepage Journal
    We're not that far removed from this and we supposedly have the political tools to stop it. Problem is, we don't really care. At best half of us get up off our fat asses to vote. So in a culture that like China WHICH DOESN'T SEE THIS AS A BAD THING, I'm doubtful that anything will of complaints. That's not the Chinese way.
  • One billion matches?! Oh yeah... we all look alike!
  • The Panopticon [wikipedia.org] is a prison design (and associated design philosophy) that resembles this to a frightening degree.
  • Cue the racist "all chinese look the same" jokes...
  • The fact is that living in a totalitarian state can be very nice actually. A real totalitarian/fascist state has a very low crime rate, so you can walk about anywhere in perfect safety, your house doesn't get broken into when you go on holiday, your car radio doesn't get stolen when you park in a dark spot, women don't get raped...
  • 1. Put in place censors at information bottlenecks, so as to allow favorable idea to spread and strengthen through collaboration, while dividing dissenters, and forcing them to compete individually.

    2. Implement a system to track the populations activities and communications, automatically approximating individual allegiances and beliefs.

    4. Obfuscate justice process, then gradually and subtly modify it in such a way as to discourage dissent, and encourage blind allegiance. Making use of information gle
  • and ultimately, it will be sold to the US Government, that's when Big Brother would get even bigger!

    OMG!
  • "What? I'm a sickly person and don't want to catch anything!"
  • It's a shame when western nations are becoming more like china the media tries to distance the realities between the two instead of showing how our freedoms are becoming more like them.
  • by foniksonik (573572) on Monday May 19, 2008 @10:58AM (#23462650) Homepage Journal
    They could just be setting up the ultimate census network.... who needs to do sample sets when you can just count the unique faces...

    Personally I don't mind the accumulation of data. I don't even mind that there is some organization watching my every move.

    This type of surveillance isn't about individuals however. It's about population analysis... cultural trends, etc. It's certainly not about policing... there is ample evidence that widespread surveillance doesn't work against criminals who are aware of it.

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