Even as protesters flooding the streets of Hong Kong are wearing masks to prevent being identified, China has rolled out a surveillance system capable of using body movements, iris scan and some other parameters to identify individuals in a crowd and track their every movement using GPS coordinates.
Earlier this week, Hong Kong residents protesting a proposed extradition law that would allow suspects to be sent to China for trial wore masks or covered their faces to prevent the government’s mass data collection and sophisticated facial recognition technology.
The authorizes could have already gone a step further of the masked protestors by employing ‘gait recognition technology,’ to overcome the problem in facial recognition caused by people wearing caps, mufflers or holding umbrellas.
Since the pro-democracy protests of 2014, China has rolled out hundreds of security cameras across Hong Kong territories which combined with it a sophisticated back-end database identifies protestors and tracks their every movement over a period of time. The system stores data such as name, age, address, place of work or study, movement across Hong Kong on a certain day, past police record and other information.
Social media posts by local residents warn their friends to wear masks, gloves and loose clothing besides carrying umbrellas in an attempt to defeat the crowed surveillance system of Beijing. Locals fear that the police could come knocking on their doors once their identities have been positively established by the mass surveillance system.
Hong Kong police has said it is tracking down injured protesters in hospitals and that 11 have been arrested so far.
Chinese authorities are said to be tracking in real-time some 2.5 million people in western China. The system has more than 6.7 million coordinates in a span of 24 hours, AP reported.
An even more sophisticated crowd identification technology could be in the making. China North Industries Group Corp Ltd (NORINCO) is building a new frontier and coastline surveillance system with high level accuracy to identify human and other targets using the BeiDou Satellite Navigation System, or BDS, at its core.
Called BeiDou+ Land and Maritime Defense and Control System (BLMDCS), the system will provide high precision monitoring and communication capability for border defense personnel, Global Times reported from 10th China Satellite Navigation Conference in Beijing last month.
Under the BLMDCS project land-based Continuously Operating Reference Station (CORS) are to be built every 40 to 50 kilometers along the country’s land and maritime border to achieve an extreme high precision position, reaching centimeter-level accuracy on moving targets and millimeter-level accuracy on static ones.
While primarily meant for the defence forces, the BLMDCS system is a further development of surveillance technology developed for use in the restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.