Experts stated that the move of China to export its surveillance tech through few of its giant companies, including liberal democracies, raised fears because of the risk of data tapped backed to Beijing along with the increasing influence of the Communist Party. China, the second-largest economy of the world, built a massive surveillance state having millions of cameras supported with facial recognition software. The devices, suspended on lamp posts and outside the streets and buildings that can recognize individuals. Some of the biggest technology companies in China involved in these types of projects throughout the country. However, now this technology being exported as the technology firms of the nation expand their worldwide footprint.
According to a report of a September by the Carnegie Endowment for Global Peace think tank, tech companies of China, specifically Huawei, Hikvision, Dahua as well as ZTE, supply AI surveillance tech in sixty-three countries. The report said that those thirty-six countries signed onto the huge infrastructure project of China, the Road, and the Belt Initiative. It added, Huawei is supplying its technology to the maximum number of nations. According to an analysis report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), some of those smart city projects, that also included surveillance technologies under process in Western countries, especially in Europe, including France, Germany, and Spain.
Moreover, experts warned several risks together with potential access data by the government of China. A fellow at Cyber Center of ASPI, Samantha Hoffman told that according to her, an assumption that ‘oh well when they roll out this particular technology, they didn’t go to use it in a harmful way, they used it to give services or used it in a way that seen as acceptable, socially acceptable in society.’
Laws and Regulations of China
Hoffman mentions Chinese laws that seem to force the firms of China to provide data and information to the government if asked. Only she used Huawei as an example and didn’t accuse the company of any type of wrongdoing. Ren Zhengfei, the CEO of Huawei, denied to hand over any customer data to Beijing on any request. Whereas, Hoffman said that she thinks they even don’t quite recognize the full scale of the issue that they deal with when it came to surveillance technology of China when it exported. It’s not only that other managements can use it in some ways, and it’s that when it’s exported, the Chinese Communist Party can award its interests as well.
Nowhere is surveillance state of China more evident than in Xinjiang, home to Uighur minority of China. The state made titles for its re-education camps and detention that hold about 1.5 million Muslims, various among them for violating what Amnesty International defines as a highly discriminatory and restrictive law that China described as designed to fight extremism. A Chinese researcher at Human Rights Watch, Maya Wang, focuses on Xinjiang and the activities of surveillance there. She warned of the risks from the surveillance technology of China going to authoritarian countries. Wang told to an international news website that, according to her, the worse future might be these régimes adopting these technologies and these collections to the previous one for controlling people.
As the report of ASPI highlighted other fears this year from China exporting its surveillance technology, together with able to weaken democracies, get an advantage on the latest technologies and military regions. Hoffman added that locally and globally, the Chinese Communist Party decided to use tech as a technique to protect & expand its strength.
Criticism regarding Privacy
The tech of facial recognition already faced criticism across the world. California lawmakers in the United States, banned local police last month from using facial-recognition software in body cameras. Whereas, the recent ban is temporary. The Financial Times reported this year that the executive arm of the European Union, the European Commission looking at enrolling new parameters on the technology. In January, the CEO of Microsoft also said that he would comfortable with the new rules about the use of facial recognition. The Financial Times also revealed that a developer involved area of London’s King installed facial recognition cameras without the knowledge of people. It drew condemnation from the data protection watchdog of Britain that said it mainly worried about the increasing use of facial recognition tech in public areas.
Also, in the United Kingdom, Liberty, an advocacy group of human rights on behalf of an individual named Ed Bridges, established a case against the police of South Wales about the use of facial recognition. In its kind, it was the first case in the world. Bridges sued that police force scanned his face and claimed no legal safeguards present to use the technology. Furthermore, Bridges told the reporters that happening stuck him as a breach of his privacy. He added, he is a law obeying citizen and was doing nothing wrong, he was only traveling for his business and in his home city police taking his data.
However, the judges ruled against the Liberty and Bridges in the case and appeared satisfied with the adequacy of a present legal rule, and the use of tech didn’t violate Human Rights. Bridges stated that he would make a plea because he worried about the lack of permission from the public.
Trade War and Surveillance
The technology firms of China caught in the crosshairs of the trade war between the United States and China. The U.S blacklisted the largest telecoms equipment manufacturer of the world, Huawei, and restricted its access to the technology of America. Washington dubbed the Chinese tech giant, Huawei, a national security threat, and described it as its gear might use by China for spying. On the other side, Huawei continually denied all those allegations. The government of the United States extended its list on Monday to add other twenty-eight Chinese companies to its blacklist named as the Entity List. A surveillance product making firm, Hikvision present among those blacklisted companies. As well as a firm Dahua that deals with the equipment of surveillance also added to the United States Entity List.