Does it see into me? Clearly? Or darkly?
"If they do not get the permanent card, they cannot live here, they cannot get government benefits, and that is a way for the government to control the population in the future."
Remember all those science fiction films/books showcasing police states that feature retina or face recognition scanners? Well, the future has arrived:
At least 20,000 police surveillance cameras are being installed along streets here in southern China and will soon be guided by sophisticated computer software from an American-financed company to recognize automatically the faces of police suspects and detect unusual activity.The article in yesterday's New York Times goes on to note that "New York police announced last month that they would install more than 100 security cameras to monitor license plates in Lower Manhattan by the end of the year. Police officials also said they hoped to obtain financing to establish links to 3,000 public and private cameras in the area by the end of next year; no decision has been made on whether face recognition technology has become reliable enough to use without the risk of false arrests."
Starting this month in a port neighborhood and then spreading across Shenzhen, a city of 12.4 million people, residency cards fitted with powerful computer chips programmed by the same company will be issued to most citizens.
Data on the chip will include not just the citizen's name and address but also work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord's phone number. Even personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China's controversial "one child" policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card.
What do you think? How do you feel about Britain's "surveillance society" and the prospect of face recognition software being used to enhance the power of the 4,000,000+ CCTV cameras already operating across the country? Are civil rights activists right to fear that cameras are a violation of the right of privacy contained in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights? What about identity cards? Are you happy to pay the Government to track your movements in the name of improved security?