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China Privacy Technology

China's All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens' Faces (wsj.com) 105

China's government is using facial-recognition technology to help promote good behavior and catch lawbreakers, reports the WSJ. From the article: Facial-recognition technology, once a specter of dystopian science fiction, is becoming a feature of daily life in China, where authorities are using it on streets, in subway stations, at airports and at border crossings in a vast experiment in social engineering (alternative source). Their goal: to influence behavior and identify lawbreakers. Ms. Gan, 31 years old, had been caught on camera crossing illegally here once before, allowing the system to match her two images. Text displayed on the crosswalk screens identified her as a repeat offender. "I won't ever run a red light again," she said. China is rushing to deploy new technologies to monitor its people in ways that would spook many in the U.S. and the West. Unfettered by privacy concerns or public debate, Beijing's authoritarian leaders are installing iris scanners at security checkpoints in troubled regions and using sophisticated software to monitor ramblings on social media. By 2020, the government hopes to implement a national "social credit" system that would assign every citizen a rating based on how they behave at work, in public venues and in their financial dealings.
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China's All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens' Faces

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  • Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegreatbob ( 693104 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @12:27PM (#54699441) Journal
    Too late for them; resist this sort of stuff before it consumes you entirely. Don't see the changes from day to day? It's called "creep" for a reason.
    • Social credit system, anybody remember Black Mirror Season 3, ep 1? (I only remember because it was the first one I watched, and I only watched a handful before giving up on the series, but it was a good one.)

    • It's called "creep" for a reason.

      And here I thought it was named that way for the person doing all of the camera watching.

      But that was in the good old days when people manned the monitors, not now when you point a cam at a monitor and let the computer do the watching for you.

    • Re:Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @01:39PM (#54699931) Journal
      Some of us do, and what do we get for our attention and trouble? We get labeled 'conspiracy theorists', or maybe 'luddites', or maybe 'potential terrorist/criminal' ("what do you have to hide, CItizen?"). Meanwhile idiots gobble up so-called 'social media' like it's candy, post their entire lives on it, and give you the stink-eye when you try to tell them that their right to privacy is valuable, and that they're just giving it away to corporations and governments that don't give a flying fuck about them as human beings, just as revenue sources, or as 'work units', or whatever governments think of people as. We're already living in a country (U.S.) where people are voluntarily purchasing with their own money technologies that can and are used to spy and surveil them 24/7/365 (smartphones, 'smart' TVs, Amazon Alexa and similar, game consoles with built-in cameras and microphones that require always-on internet connectivity, 'Iot' devices like Nest, so-called 'fitness bands', and so on) and are having some innocuous technologies forced on them ('smart' utility meters, which of themselves are not evil, but the immediacy of the data collection can be used to feed into profiles of people; when they're home, what they might be doing, etc; traffic monitoring cameras everywhere you look, etc). ISPs collecting data on everything you do on the Internet (even though they have to be lying when they say they aren't doing it, 24/7/365) and so on. Then there's so-called 'self driving cars', of which Google would love to see a world where no one is allowed to drive themselves, and the car has no controls whatsoever for a human occupant anyway, so you have ZERO CONTROL over the vehicle; of course it's got cameras and microphones inside it to monitor you, and GPS, and it can be remotely controlled by law enforcement, the government, and of course any criminals with the technical chops to hack into it and seize control of the car's systems. THIS IS THE WORLD WE'RE ALREADY LIVING IN, AND NOBODY IS REALLY COMPLAINING YET. If you do complain, as previously stated, most people look at you like you're nuts.

      There will be a sharp drop-off at some point. Something will go too far, and it'll be the thing that finally gets people to wake up. Sadly, it'll probably be when the government(s) decide to openly treat citizens like convicts in a prison, with no freedom to speak of, and full knowledge that you're monitored and judged 24/7/365 everywhere you go, whatever you're doing. China and it's assholery anti-human policies is just the foreshadowing of what's to come. No government ever cedes power back to the citizens; power always seeks more power. There is a small chance that enough people like you and I are paying attention and speaking up, so that everyone else will be aware enough to avoid this sort of extreme dystopian future, but at the moment it's looking rather slim. It might take it being too late and there having to be an uprising. Or perhaps it's all really coming on too slow and subtle, and no one will notice until it's way too late to stop it. Or, even worse: it'll happen, and everyone will have been so thoroughly indoctrinated, that they'll think it's good and right and normal.

      I'm actually glad I probably won't live long enough to see it all happen, and even gladder that I don't believe in an afterlife or reincarnation. I don't want to see what happens afterwards. :-(

      ..but on the other hand: I hear rumblings of Chinese citizenry getting good and bloody well tired of Communist Chinese government bullshit. Wouldn't be the first time in China's history, or the last I suspect, that there was an Uprising and a Revolution of one kind or another. You don't want to piss off a BILLION people, now do you? They could kill 500,000,000 of them in a civil war and still lose. *shrug* you never know, human rights and democracy might win out in the end. Despite all my gloom-and-doom, there is always a spark of hope left.. We might have a Star Trek future yet..
      • Finding the right way in which to raise points is critical to raising overall awareness... It's difficult not to come across as trying to steer a conversation into conspiracy-nutter territory. Also disturbingly difficult to get through to people that:

        We're not trying to say that all surveillance is inherently bad.
        Despite best intentions, mankind's history ensures that anything that is abusable will be abused (sooner, not later, and as much as possible).
        If people don't regularly raise a stink about enchr
          • I don't think that's a new play invented by the CIA, I think that's a really old one out of a very old playbook: claim anyone who disagrees with you is insane. It's just another form of devaluing and discrediting someone, which is a much more effective strategy than killing them outright; you discredit someone thoroughly enough, they'll never recover from it. You kill someone, you create a martyr, and you can't hurt a martyr, you can only make them stronger.
        • If people don't regularly raise a stink about enchroachment upon liberties, they irrevocably vanish.

          Smartphones. The Media. Television. Movies. Social media. Professional sports. There are probably other things that should go on this list, but they're all 'Bread and Circuses', 21st Century Edition. They're distracting the vast majority of people from actually paying attention. Then there's the religion angle: keep the Faithful more concerned about the Afterlife than THIS life -- and more afraid of what the Other Religions want to 'do' to you, than what's going on with your own government. The so-called 'w

      • or, blather away all the time on FB about trite and mundane aspects of life, whist keeping truly tight lipped about what one does want actually private, all the way to including use of a separate phone and phone number for said private activity.

        I believe that analytics is so good now (and remember if you're in pics others post on FB then you have a FB profile already, it's just not named and is a guid) that social "holes" stand out more than the other methods of enforcing privacy. Because of this I use the

        • Re:Too late (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @03:34PM (#54700627) Journal

          Because of this I use the approach above, though I'll wager neither is all that great at real bulletproof privacy.

          I have a close friend who does that. Problem is, no matter how careful you are, you let a word or two slip here and there. They can even glean quite a bit about your personality even from how you write things, what your sense of humor is like, and so on. I don't use any social media anymore, and I don't use my real name online. I know damned well that corporations and the government still have data on me because aside from going completely dark (no internet, no phone, pay cash for everything, etc) I still 'leak' some data. But I'll be damned if I'm going to give it away freely.

      • Yup. Crap like this is why I moved to New Hampshire, with thousands of other freedom activists.
      • I don't believe in an afterlife or reincarnation

        What do you suppose reproduction is?

        The afterlife will persist without you, the descendants of others will live, and by your genetic relatedness, you too will continue to live in part.

        You cannot give up. If you do not fight you will be dragged on anyway, even after your body is gone.

        You should reconsider your perception of self. Don't buy the 'individualist' falsehood that is pushed on us all by the plutocrats' media machine. We are all connected, we all live in one another.

    • Too late for them; resist this sort of stuff before it consumes you entirely.

      How are you supposed to "resist" extensive surveillance exactly? You have zero control over who puts cameras where. At great effort you can try to arrange your life to avoid cameras, but to what end? It's not really resisting, it's avoiding and will not stop the inevitable spread of cameras and AI as both get cheaper and faster and smaller ad infinitum.

      You could also wear masking patterns on the face that fool facial recognitio

      • Spurring public discussion is generally my goal, but coming up with a good way of convincing people that it's not a lost cause is a difficult matter. I'm not claiming to have good answers to these problems, but rather trying to keep conversations on the topic from being disregarded as conspiratorial nonsense. Your concerns are well-founded.

        Having your own private surveillance schemes in place is definitely not a bad thing; I personally only run a dashcam as a result of absolutely horrid driving behaviors
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mass surveillence IS guilty before proven innocent, no matter what government does it. This is the angle we need to push if we want to stop it. The average person hasn't even begun to arrive at that conclusion, because the average person is too lazy to think.

  • Catching up? (Score:5, Informative)

    by magarity ( 164372 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @12:32PM (#54699479)

    So does this mean they'll catch up to the UK soon? Last time I was in London a few years back cameras were everywhere. Their favorite spot is at the tops of escalators and stairs aimed so that even with a hat brim they can catch your face.

    • What the UK isn't doing is getting in your face with real-time analysis of your social infractions. This is sort of heading down the advertising road shown in Minority Report and other movies... they want you to know they know who you are, and what you do, and what you like to do...

      • What the UK isn't doing is getting in your face with real-time analysis of your social infractions.

        How do you know? Yeah, they might not be in your face, but for sure they are collecting the data.

  • by kelanos ( 4973983 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @12:40PM (#54699537)

    Never forget that OUR surveillance state is rampaging across our lives, cutting off our potential, turning us into cattle. Anything China is doing the western plutocrats are doing better.

    It's up to the middle class to stand up and take charge of their own lives. We need to foster community and stand up to the machine, or the entire Earth will be desolated.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      O give it a rest. The US/Western Governments aren't blameless. But it's not even CLOSE to the same. At least 'in theory' in the US we can at any time vote out the people running the show & get rid of any level of surveillance we want. We can as well sue the government to stop them from overreach, as some already have. NOW, does that mean there are 'secret programs' of people doing things a 'free society' shouldn't abide? Sure, probably, but notice those are 'secret', there is no reason for these to be s

      • O give it a rest. The US/Western Governments aren't blameless. But it's not even CLOSE to the same. At least 'in theory' in the US we can at any time vote out the people running the show & get rid of any level of surveillance we want.

        LOL!

        You think they'd allow elections/votes to go forward that would actually, seriously, limit their power and abilities & methods to surveil and control the population? The *only* way such votes/elections would be allowed to go forward is if the 'fix' was already well-in. It would be Russian/Chinese/N. Korean hackers, voter fraud, climate change, stock market crash, terrorist attack...they'd throw something out there to stop it otherwise.

        No, taking back freedom and liberty, this far along towards a pol

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Social-network-ist regime.

    It will rot in new and interesting ways. Life always adapts, intelligent life even more so. My guess is that last resort of resistance is apathy: drag your feet, don't make large transgressions but don't seek or care for rewards from the system, just don't cooperate, make them push and carry you anywhere they want you to go; sort of large scale, out of parliament filibuster done by masses. That's how Roman Empire fell, that's how SSSR fell, that's how British Raj fell, that's how a

  • PRISM

    but it's not a big deal since only blessed corporations can use it in their on-boarding process.

  • by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @01:06PM (#54699715)

    And if even half of that comes to fruition in the final "product" it's terrifying:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHcTKWiZ8sI

  • Something tells me China will have a demand for face masks. Everyone would want a Jet Li or Jackie Chan face mask.
  • Many All-Seeing Eyes, So Few All-Thinking Brains

  • ... it's their country.

    It's ours next.

  • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Tuesday June 27, 2017 @01:32PM (#54699873) Journal
    They all look the same, don't they?
    • The western-imported camera recognition software says:

      Try again, some one blinked

      ad infinitum

  • "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." benjamin Franklin

  • Isn't that what the UK has been doing for like... a decade or longer?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nosedive

    Lacie Pound (Bryce Dallas Howard) lives in a world where people can rate one's popularity out of five stars, from friends to strangers on the street. Lacie, who is obsessed with being well received, begins the episode with an approval rating around 4.2. She lives with her brother Ryan (James Norton), who has a lower approval rating and does not worry about it. Their lease is expiring, and Lacie is eager to move out to the "luxurious" Pelican Cove, against her brother's

  • In 10 Downing Street, Theresa May is reading this and drooling. Once she is rid of that pesky human rights convention............
  • They figure out ways to generate more forms, complicate instead of simplify. Take instead of adding to life they take away freedom.. I'm not at all, saying, all technology is bad but - What good is technology when you have people who design it to make other people feel miserable or incarcerated?
  • Face it, there are illegal and unconstitutional camera loadings of American citizens into facial recognition databases without permission occurring at all federal buildings and most airports right now. They even use bus depots.

    Fun Fact: still easy to defeat. Still incredibly inaccurate in real world situations.

  • Except, they're all just gonna wear face-masks (as many of them do already), so good luck with that...

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