Mainland China has already started its massive facial database of all mainland Chinese citizens and possibly permanent residents of the country as well. Beijing is keen on monitoring the movements of people in the mainland. This is the key to transform China into a cohesive unit, with the opposition to the ruling leaders in Beijing unable to influence Chinese citizens. External observers view the new facial-recognition project is actually designed to intentionally profile the minority groups. This includes the Uighurs, it is the largest Muslim minority group in China.
Facial recognition is not a new technology, it raised its prominence in the last two years since major phone manufacturers included it as a standard feature with their devices. Many people globally have embraced the technology to identify themselves with their devices, but not to a point that a state will acquire the data for facial profiling.
The Uighurs population is approximately 11 million, many of them living in eastern Chinese cities of Wenzhou and Hangzhou. Local laws for Shaanxi province is aggressively implementing counter checks of facial features versus the minority people. “Take the most risky application of this technology, and chances are good someone is going to try it. If you make a technology that can classify people by an ethnicity, someone will use it to repress that ethnicity,” explained Clare Garvie, Center on Privacy and Technology Associate.
The newer facial-technology to be rolled-out is powered by Artificial Intelligence. It is much advanced compared to any facial-recognition offered by a smartphone today. Beijing since 2017 has organized its regime to make China a machine-learning capital through video and audio monitoring.
“What we are witnessing in Xinjiang is different, not quantitatively but qualitatively: a massive, concerted campaign of coerced sociocultural re-engineering. It is not so much a crime against physical bodies as it is against souls,” added Adrian Zenz.
The Chinese citizens are known as very compliant people towards the rulings from Beijing. Just like the rest of the world, terrorism and is a big issue with them as well. “Most Chinese are very supportive of the iron fist policy. The Chinese fear of deep Islamization and Islamic extremism is increasing,” said Zhu Feng, an International Relations Professor.
China has even installed face recognition kiosk in some of its airports, guiding passengers to their respective flights, this transparently let people know that nothing bad is behind the plan of the roll-out.
“Wow! China Airport face recognition systems to help you check your flight status and find the way to your gate. Note I did not input anything, it accurately identified my full flight information from my face! pic.twitter.com/5ASdrwA7wj,” said Matthew Brennan in a Twitter post.
The plan for facial-recognition system roll-out will not be exclusive to China for long, the United States itself is planning for the same thing. “Delta’s successful launch of the first biometric terminal in the U.S. at the world’s busiest airport means we are designing the airport biometric experience blueprint for the industry. We’re removing the need for a customer checking a bag to present their passport up to four times per departure – which means we’re giving customers the option of moving through the airport with one less thing to worry about, while empowering our employees with more time for meaningful interactions with customers,” said Delta Biometrix CEO, Gil West.