Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Beijing, China (4E) – China is on the way to becoming the first country on Earth to realize the terrifying future reality depicted in the disturbing 2002 Hollywood movie “Minority Report” starring Tom Cruise.
China is now building the world’s most powerful facial recognition network that might eventually identify any one of its more than 1.3 billion citizens within three seconds. The communist country’s goal for this program launched in 2015 is equally frightening: match a person’s face to his photo with 90 percent accuracy in a campaign to erase dissent and discontent among its oppressed citizens.
The system operates on a smaller scale at present, and depends on local police databases and city or provincial ID pools. It remains under development and its transformation to a national system is being spearheaded by Isvision, a security company based in Shanghai. This company won the government contract to develop the system in 2017 but has been working on this technology for the government since the early 2000s.
“The progress of development is confidential,” said a company representative. “At present we have no information for public disclosure.”
Security cameras with Isvision facial recognition capabilities are connected to the police database of suspects, and are capable of recognizing and tracking targets in a large crowd. The Isvision system is connected to surveillance camera networks and uses the Cloud to connect to data storage and processing centres across China. It also relies on a national database of police suspects and persons of interest to the communist government.
Isvision also deployed similar systems for the Chinese People’s Armed Police Force in violence wracked Xinjiang and Tibet where independence movements thrive.
Some scientists, however, say it’s unclear when the system will be completed. They also noted that the system’s development keeps running into difficulties caused by the technical limits of current facial recognition technology and the extremely large population of China. The core data set for the national system, which includes the portrait information of each Chinese citizen, amounts to 13 terabytes.
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