.dropdown { font-family: arial; font-size: 120%; color: #000000; width:130px; margin: 5px 0 0px 0px; background-color: #ffffff; } List NINE
Open links in secondary window

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A choice: high technology or freedom.

A case in point: China, where the government is going to blanket the city of Shenzhen (with more than 12 million residents) with a network of linked up surveillance cameras and force almost every resident to carry a computer-chipped id card that carries their work, health, residency status and criminal record, as well as a whole host of other information that might still be considered nominally "private" here in the US. Further, they have issued all the cops GPS systems so that the authorities can better use them to keep everyone in check, whether they are a criminal or a political activist.

The technology will allow for a more specific and accurate application of force by the ruling class through their armed protectors, the police, thus increasing the ability of the Chinese elite to force their will onto that of the people, many of whom have moved to the cities from rural areas and have engaged in increasingly violent and class conscious protests and insurrections against their communist and capitalist bosses (there were nearly a hundred thousand riots and other uprisings last year in China).

The interesting thing is, as even the developers of this tech (American companies, of course) admit, they're not giving the Chinese government anything special. That means that the tyrannical capabilities of the technologies are built into them - you can't separate them. Said another way, there's nothing neutral about this technology. It's a tool of the ruling class and, as they do now, they will use it to exploit and dominate us for their own selfish profit.

And this is why we have a choice: high technology or freedom. Sadly, unless we do something about it soon, we'll have no choice at all. After all, the authorities plan on using the same technology here, and they've already deployed aspects of it in many cities.

(By the way - thanks to both Andrew and my comrade Collin for each independently pointing me towards to the article below.)

Consider the future:
China Enacting a High-Tech Plan to Track People

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.

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.

Security experts describe China’s plans as the world’s largest effort to meld cutting-edge computer technology with police work to track the activities of a population and fight crime. But they say the technology can be used to violate civil rights.

The Chinese government has ordered all large cities to apply technology to police work and to issue high-tech residency cards to 150 million people who have moved to a city but not yet acquired permanent residency.

Both steps are officially aimed at fighting crime and developing better controls on an increasingly mobile population, including the nearly 10 million peasants who move to big cities each year. But they could also help the Communist Party retain power by maintaining tight controls on an increasingly prosperous population at a time when street protests are becoming more common.

“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,” said Michael Lin, the vice president for investor relations at China Public Security Technology, the company providing the technology.

Incorporated in Florida, China Public Security has raised much of the money to develop its technology from two investment funds in Plano, Tex., Pinnacle Fund and Pinnacle China Fund. Three investment banks — Roth Capital Partners in Newport Beach, Calif.; Oppenheimer & Company in New York; and First Asia Finance Group of Hong Kong — helped raise the money.

Shenzhen, a computer manufacturing center next to Hong Kong, is the first Chinese city to introduce the new residency cards. It is also taking the lead in China in the large-scale use of law enforcement surveillance cameras — a tactic that would have drawn international criticism in the years after the Tiananmen Square killings in 1989.

But rising fears of terrorism have lessened public hostility to surveillance cameras in the West. This has been particularly true in Britain, where the police already install the cameras widely on lamp poles and in subway stations and are developing face recognition software as well.

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.

Shenzhen already has 180,000 indoor and outdoor closed-circuit television cameras owned by businesses and government agencies, and the police will have the right to link them on request into the same system as the 20,000 police cameras, according to China Public Security.

Continued at the New York Times...

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Powered by Blogger