Forget 1984, even George Orwell couldn’t have seen news like this coming as fast. It is now reported that law enforcement in China has started spying on its citizens with facial recognition software.
At railway stations across the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou police have begun successfully profiling large gatherings of people for criminals and suspects. It is reported that the glasses have already picked up “seven fugitives related to major criminal cases such as human trafficking and hit-and-runs, and 26 others who were traveling with fake identities.”
The rapid response service is linked to an offline database connected to PCs. The company behind the glasses LLVision told the Wall Street Journal that in their prior trials they were able to identify individuals from 10,000 in one-tenth of a second. The basic video the only version is being sold for around £450 to consumers across the world.
This is not Google Glass, but facial recognition glass connected to Chinese police database. Deployed to a Zhengzhou railway station 5 days ago, it has detected at least 7 fugitives and 26 fake ID holders. #surveillance pic.twitter.com/eXrzRgORam
— FAN Wenxin (@xinwenfan) February 6, 2018
China plans to install a further 400 million new CCTV camera over the next few years, making it the most surveilled nation on earth. And as the Lunar Year festivities approach this Spring around 389 million train trips are expected to take place as well as 65 million trips by air, the glasses will be used further over the busy period.
This brings up a lot of moral questions about human rights consequences. Whether other states across the world are inspired by this rapid facial recognition response system will remain to be seen. Amnesty International told WSJ that, “The potential to give individual police officers facial-recognition technology in sunglasses could eventually make China’s surveillance state all the more ubiquitous.”