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Simon Rabinovitch
I had a look at some marketing websites for Chinese surveillance technology, and they're pretty much what you'd expect: deeply unsettling. Here's a brief tour. (1/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
First off, this is obviously a booming market. There are dozens of companies with similar facial-recognition products. The US can try to go after Hikvision, but there's also SunQTech, JVT, Cinris, Cobber, iCare (they do), etc, etc. It's almost endless. (2/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
Website design is a bit like Shutterstock meets the panopticon. Here's a savvy businessman looking to the future. (3/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
Hair tousled, relaxing next to the train track, as one does. (The point here is that back-lit faces are no obstacle for the technology.) (4/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
Carefree children running in the school yard. (Point here is that movement is no obstacle for the technology.) (5/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
Several companies talk of their ability to track people's movements: for example, linking up cameras to show someone's route in real time. (We know this is happening, but it's something else to see it so clearly laid out.) (6/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
Or going through archived images to see the different cities one has visited over time. (7/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
Companies give plenty of examples of their tech in use: on city streets, at building entrances, in train stations, outside big tourist sites, etc. None of this is surprising given the proliferation of cameras, but it does underscore the scale of demand for these products. (8/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
Chinese firms are hardly alone in developing this kind of tech. Cisco, Palantir, etc are probably more sophisticated than the vast majority of their Chinese competitors. (9/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
Actually the Chinese firms, to their (presumably unintentional) credit, are candid in talking about potential uses. Take the sweetly named Smile: it says its tech can be used for monitoring drug users or petitioners (ordinary people bringing grievances to the government). (10/x)
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Simon Rabinovitch Dec 15
Replying to @S_Rabinovitch
One final point: most of the tech products and case studies featured on these websites are from the past 2-3 years. So this is not a look at the future, at least not in China. If anything, this is already history. (11/11)
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