China Uses Coronavirus to Expand Mass Surveillance of Its Citizens

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New York Times tech correspondent Paul Mozur lives in China and has been tweeting about the country’s increase in surveillance of its citizens that includes making people download software to track their location and sharing it with police, flying drones to make sure people are wearing masks, and police are wearing helmets with facial recognition cameras that can also take people’s temperature. Mozur wrote that the precedent that is being set in China is likely to include newly empowered neighborhood committees, conditioning people to accept checkpoints, and companies sharing location information from apps directly with police.

The Chinese government rolled out a new internet law to ban all negative content and is expected to ban criticism.

  • Authorities across China have been using new hi-tech surveillance methods to monitor citizens in an attempt to stem the coronavirus outbreak.
  • They include flying drones to make sure people are wearing masks, facial-recognition cameras, and making people download software to track their location.
  • This kind of surveillance is already present in Xinjiang, the homeland of the Uighurs, where China operates an invasive, 21st-century police state.
  • Experts told Business Insider that this mass data collection could stay the norm even after the coronavirus becomes less of a public-health threat.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

China has dramatically ramped up its data-collection efforts in its efforts to stem its coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 80,000 people in the country alone.

In pursuit of this, authorities have rolled out a slew of new tactics to monitor and track potential cases.

The Chinese government has long been criticized for its invasive use of technology, and the coronavirus outbreak has appeared to strengthen its case for harvesting more data – a situation experts fear could become permanent.

The methods include:

After bearing the brunt of the coronavirus outbreak, China appears to be undergoing a turnaround, in which people are getting better faster than they fall sick.

However, experts fear that this mass data collection could continue after the coronavirus is less of a public-health threat, and becomes a permanent addition to the Communist Party surveillance’s state.

(It’s worth noting that these technologies have so far been implemented piecemeal in some regions, and it’s too early to tell whether they actually helped China stem an outbreak.)

But this kind of surveillance state already exists in in one part of China: Xinjiang, a northwestern Chinese region home to the oppressed Uighur population.

The Chinese state sees Islam – the religion of most Uighurs – as a threat, and conflating it with religious extremism. China has in the past few years effectively set up a police state in their homeland.

Almost a million Uighurs have been detained in prison-like re-education camps over alleged infractions as minor as going to other countries, growing a beard, and owning computer files in the Uighur language. (Many of these so-called crimes were laid out recently in a series of leaked documents called the Karakax List.)

Authorities there have installed almost a million facial-recognition cameras to record crimes, and even anticipate them.

Read full article here…

Additional source — Paul Mozur’s Twitter page:

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