Chinese face recognition system and air pollution masks

As part of the U.S. campaign to make sure that no country interferes in the internal politics of another country, “China’s ‘Abusive’ Facial Recognition Machine Targeted By New U.S. Sanctions”:

It has been coming, but the decision by the U.S. government to add a further 28 Chinese entities to its Commerce Department blacklist will still come as a shock. And the headlines will be dominated by the fact that in amongst those new additions are China’s leading AI surveillance unicorns. In short, the U.S. has just blacklisted China’s facial recognition industry, citing “human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang.”

There may not be a good answer (except that Americans are always right?) to the question of what weight to assign security from jihad versus personal privacy. Certainly the Chinese are less willing to tolerate the risk of incidents such as the following:

  • Boston Marathon bombing (jihadists would not have been admitted to China because they generally don’t admit refugees or asylum-seekers as immigrants)
  • 2015 San Bernardino attack (would not have occurred in China because Syed Rizwan Farook’s parents would not have been allowed in as low-skill immigrants)
  • Orlando nightclub shooting (Omar Mir Seddique’s parents similarly would not have been admitted to China as immigrants)
  • 2017 New York City truck attack (Sayfullo Habibullaevich Saipov would not have been admitted to China as a low-skill chain migrant)

They’re also less willing to tolerate the kind of street crime and violence that Americans in Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, etc. accept as inevitable.

Let’s ignore this question of how a society should balance privacy versus security for the moment and think only in terms of practicalities. In a country in which the wearing of masks to filter out air pollution is common, how can a surveillance state based on facial recognition work? Anyone who doesn’t want to be recognized can simply don a mask, no?

4 thoughts on “Chinese face recognition system and air pollution masks

  1. It is not only the random facial recognition which is police state business, it is also the logging of buyers of all services, including lodging, museum entrances, even for full price tickets, high speed rail.

    Also, FBI is salivating over the chance of putting facial recognition anywhere they can get away with, but I guess the FBI will escape this designation, despite regularly violating the Constitution.

  2. What about the connected 9/11 terrorists, who carried out the most lethal and society changing terrorist attack in history? What excuse would China have had not to let the Saudis in? Perhaps China isn’t a terrorist target because they haven’t been meddling in other countries politics and economics for over a century.

    As for street crime, there are many Youtube videos and accounts from people who live in China which demonstrably contradict your assessment. Pickpockets and thieves operate in plain sight of the general public with no repercussions whatsoever. No one seems willing to stand up for what’s right. It’s also seems to be tremendously corrupt if you do have a run in with law enforcement.

  3. Is there a definitive text describing how China is actually organized? Not the official narrative or a protest narrative, but something essentially neutral. I have a hard time understanding how a “typical” Chinese citizen navigates the system.

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