US financed China Public Security Technology will install about 20,000 police surveillance cameras along streets in southern China. The cameras will be guided by sophisticated computer software to automatically recognize the faces of police suspects and detect unusual activity.
Beginning this month, China residency cards fitted with powerful computer chips will be issued to most citizens. The chips will include the citizen’s name, address, work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status, and landlord’s phone number. Personal reproductive history will supposedly be included for enforcing China’s controversial “one child” policy. Plans may be made to include credit histories, subway travel payments, and small purchases charged to the card.
Although China’s plans may be the world’s largest effort to meld computer technology with police work to track a population’s activities and to fight crime. The plan is to better control an increasingly mobile population and to fight crime. Experts say the technology may violate civil rights though, saying this may help the Communist Party retain power by maintaining tight controls on the population.
Shenzhen, a computer manufacturing center next to Hong Kong, is the first Chinese city to introduce the new residency cards. Those who do not have the cards will not be able to live in China and cannot get government benefits. Some civil rights activists say the cameras are a violation of the right of privacy contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
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