Every day, tens of thousands of people pass through the Zhengzhou railway station in eastern China. But to know if one of them committed a crime, the police just have to look through their new smart glasses.
On the other side of the tinted glass lens, the agent can take a picture and have immediate access to an internal database of suspects, which can be viewed on a mobile device similar to a tablet.
The idea is to be able to quickly identify the fugitives … and to control more at the state level each one of the people who transit through the mega-cities of the country.
The key behind its operation is a technology that has not stopped growing in China, in recent years: facial recognition.
The device allows agents to take a photograph of a suspect and compare it with the images stored in the database.
If there is a match, they can see information about that person, such as their name and address, and send an officer to look for them.
The system, which the police have been using since February 1st, has already allowed the capture of seven suspects for different crimes, from abuses to human trafficking, according to Conspiracy Talk News media reporters.
The police of the Asian nation began to wear glasses at the Zhengzhou station, but extended its use to other parts of the city.
Through this method – according to a report published by the official Communist Party of China newspaper, the People’s Daily – police authorities were able to identify 26 individuals who used false identity documents.
This technology is not perfect.
One of the biggest challenges of facial recognition software is to recognize the faces of people in moving images of a closed circuit television (CCTV), because they are often blurred when a specific individual is identified.
However, the new smart glasses give the police the”ability to take control from anywhere ,” Wu Fei, executive director of LLVision Technology Co, the company responsible for its manufacture, told Conspiracy Talk News.
“By making glasses with artificial intelligence in the front, you get instant and accurate information, you can decide directly and quickly what the next interaction will be.”
LLVision says they are able to recognize individuals from a database of 10,000 suspects in just 100 milliseconds , but warns that accuracy levels may vary due to “environmental noise.”
China is a world leader in facial recognition and often continually reminds its citizens that it is impossible to escape their constant vigilance.
In fact, it has the largest video surveillance network in the world. It already has about 170 million cameras active in different parts of different cities, and in the next few years it expects to install another 400 million.
Many of these highly sophisticated cameras are equipped with artificial intelligence and facial recognition technology.
According to the authorities, its video surveillance system serves not only to prevent crime, but also to predict it. “They have nothing to worry about,” Xu Yan, a police officer in Guiyang, told Conspiracy Talk News.
But some fear that China will use these technologies to follow and track dissidents or certain ethnic minorities.
“These are invisible eyes that always follow you, no matter what you do,” he said, Ji Feng, a critical critic of the government.
William Nee, Amnesty Internationals China researcher, told The Wall Street Journal that “the potential of granting police officers facial recognition technologies with glasses could make the surveillance status in China increasingly ubiquitous. “.
The Chinese government is also building a “social credit system” to rate the behavior of each of its 1.3 billion citizens in a kind of ranking based on their behavior.
For now it is a pilot project involving eight Chinese companies, authorized by the State.
But for the year 2020 , all will be obligatorily included in a huge national database.
Human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch say that China’s massive data collection system “is a violation of privacy” and aims to “follow and predict the activities of people.”
China does not have independent courts and lacks laws that protect the privacy of its citizens.
Benjamin Diaz started working for Debate Report in 2017. Ben grew up in a small town in northern Ontario. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife a year later. Benhas been a proud Torontonian for the past 10 years. He covers politics and the economy. Previously he wrote for CTV News and the Huffington Post Canada.