China Becomes the World’s First Tech ‘Big Brother.’
There are over a billion residents in China today. It is one of the largest populations on earth, and it is steadily seeing its privacy and anonymity eroded. Recent reports to the American news media by reporters in China suggest that today in that country the authorities are able to track the whereabouts of not just criminals or suspected terrorists, but every single ordinary citizens over the age of 15 — through a combination of fingerprint files online, facial recognition, voice recognition, and phone scanners. If you want to hide in China, reporters say, you have to leave the country.
Other countries, of course, also use surveillance technology, but not to the extent that China does — plus other countries have laws in place to curtail too much techno-snooping without a warrant or subpoena. San Francisco city recently passed an ordinance severely limiting the use of facial recognition by the police. Many other cities are considering doing the same.
So why is China so bent on becoming the world’s best (or–depending on how you view it–the worst) surveillance state?
Sinologists say the answer is not simple, nor black and white, but they agree for the most part that after eighty years of Communist rule, the Party leaders are desperate to keep control of the levers of government and feel that knowing everything about everybody is the best way to do that.