Surveillance sentences to ponder

One of the surveillance industry’s recent — and much publicised — success stories took place at a pop concert in eastern China. While Jacky Cheung, a Hong Kong pop star (rebranded a “fugitive trapper” by the Chinese media) crooned, cameras were automatically sweeping the audience.  Facial-recognition technology picked out four men accused of crimes — including a ticket scalper and a greengrocer accused of a Rmb110,000 potato scam in 2015. “Smiling as he approached his idol, he did not realise he had already been spotted,” Jiaxing police gloated in a social-media post.


Some of China’s leading facial-recognition players, for example, are now moving into gait recognition. Hanwang Technology was an early entrant in the field: it was forced to rethink its fingerprint-recognition technology when the Sars epidemic of 2005 left people in China terrified of physical contact.  “We can see the human figure and his gait, so if his cap is pulled down [we] can still recognise him,” explains Liu Changping, president of the Beijing-based company. The Chinese authorities already have a decent video database to build on, he adds: “If [someone] was put in prison before, there’s video of him walking around.”

That is from Louis Lucas and Emily Feng from the FT, interesting throughout.


Wait until the Chinese discover what the iPhone offers. Oh wait, they already have, apparently - 'But iPhone users in China — a country of more than a billion people — are becoming increasingly concerned about their iPhone X’s security and privacy features.' Though the reason might be a bit different - it appears that the iPhone just might have problems (rare, apparently) in telling Chinese faces apart, according to the article.

And the Chinese are still behind the free market surveillance curve - Facebook likely does facial recognition at a considerably lower cost than any police agency.

This has nothing to do with the topic. Is Apple on your hate list? Frankly, I'm struggling to see the point of this post at all. At worst Apple's facial recognition algorithm might have a slightly worse error rate with Chinese faces. It's a big and lucrative market. Their undoubtedly working on a better algorithm and the phones will update automatically when they deploy one.

Ol' prior likes to think of himself as some kind of Snowden-lite, taking on Big Tech. He's a modern day Neuromancer dontcha know.

It's not like they ever managed a half-competent fingerprint scan.

The leading facial recognition company in America is Peter Thiel's Palanatir, part of what I refer to as the Libertarian-Authoritarian Axis. Or LINO (Libertarian In Name Only). But that's old news (to those paying attention). I've commented before about people watching, especially at the airport, and that I can recognize the class of a person by the way he walks. My friends get a good laugh out of my imitations of the walk of the various classes. Well, lo and behold, facial recognition is giving way to gait recognition. Who knew I was standing (or walking) on the latest technology for snooping. Maybe I will apply for a job with Mr. Thiel's company. Or maybe I will start my own counter-espionage company, teaching people how to change their gait so they can't be recognized.

I am curious. How does the lower class walk differently than the upper?

Well to start they have crappier shoes.

lol. I was wondering if they were all bow legged.

Only the hookers.

Like most articles about China in the western media, this is a cocktail of Orientalism, subjective anecdotal reporting, and the selective cherry-picking of facts. The only thing missing is an anti-China quote from the archetypal Chinese government official, who "wished to remain anonymous".

In principle, the United States is more-or-less the same as China. However, what "authoritarian, closed" China does openly, "open, democratic" America does secretly.

And then lies about it to Congress, like James Clapper did.

Since the US is a democracy (at least on paper), it has to hide its human rights abuses from the citizenry. The Chinese government on the other hand has no such concerns (not that the Chinese people are complaining anyway). The US government, on the other hand, grants its citizens full rights to protest and criticize - with the condition that the protests should not be effective.

The NSA knows everything you've stored on any social media platform and all data stored on your phones, and also all data that you ever provided - willingly or unwillingly - to Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Skype, and AOL (see here and here). Heck, it also knows how many pigs you've killed in Angry Birds! All of this is accessible to possibly hundreds of NSA employees. And these private companies cannot talk about it publicly due to gag orders imposed on them.

Compared to China's human rights abuses - real or imagined - Snowden's revelations elicited barely a peep out of the western mainstream media. Granted - there was debate, but far less than warranted by this massive abuse of privacy by the US government of its own citizens.

And not to mention the selective cherry picking in the article; to take just one example, the "digital panopticon" is enabled by western investors as well, but only "Chinese and Russian state funds as well as stars of the Chinese tech scene such as Alibaba" are mentioned as investors of SenseTime. The digital surveillance state is financed by western investors almost as much as Chinese ones.

Such hypocrisy and double standards, and the near universal disregard for exactly the same human rights abuses conducted by the US - is central to western mainstream journalism. Thus, Rep. Will Hurd will write in the New York Times that "For more than a decade, Russia has meddled in elections around the world, supported brutal dictators and invaded sovereign nations...", but will ignore the fact that the statement also applies exactly to the United States - word for word. And with far more brutality. After all, unlike the US, Russia did not kill half a million people in the countries it invaded.

Of course, two wrongs don't make a right. But that doesn't mean America shouldn't be criticized and punished. Russia and China are simply following the American example - albeit on a much smaller scale. If the US is indeed the world's policeman, it behaves more often like the Ferguson police.

You are unfamiliar with US laws and also the requirement for subpoena for the items you describe.

Ever hear of FISA? Ever hear of subpoena requirements to get the data you describe.

Maybe not in your country.

FISA? Do you also believe in Santa Claus and that all good boys and girls will be rewarded? Unfortunately, you're not alone in believing that form is function. What are the checks and balances for FISA? Yeah, exactly.

If you tell me which country you are from I will give you a link comparing your country's treatment of civil liberties and privacy compared to your own.

As for FISA, it is quite rigorous. I don't know what you read for your source of information, but you are clearly uninformed or just trolling from a foreign country.

Stop acting like a cuck. That's my job.

Isn't it like less than 1% of FISA requests are denied?

That means that there is strong review before a submission is made or that they do not do it recklessly.

Ever take a logic course.

Or it means the FISA review is a rubber stamp process.

See what I mean, and you proved it!

Your statement meant absolutely NOTHING because the 1% could be read both ways.

This was an experiment on my part to demonstrate the illogicality of your argument.

Thank you for participating in this. I did not get institutional review board approval for it, but next time I will.

Thank you so much.

That's an idiotic response. Of course it's a rubber stamp. If they were all legitimate requests and there was a legitimate FISA process then such a tiny refusal rate would indicate they are being too conservative in their requests.

Luckily we do know about the requests backed by phony evidence that have been in the news for the past year.


If A (FISA warrants are carefully considered and only good ones get offered) is true then B (1% of FISA applications denied)


If Not A (FISA warrants are rubber stamped, ie, not carefully considered) then B (1% of FISA warrants denied) is true.

How can A and Not A be true when they both infer B.

You claimed that 1% denial infers that they were carelessly granted.

Don't think too hard about this. Now, what you might consider is that applications are revised after submission to get through, which, according to Wikipedia, is what happens.

So now we know

Andrew McCarthy commented this morning on FOX News: “I’m really embarrassed because I told people for months that this could never, ever happen….It’s astonishing. It’s as if they took the dossier and slapped a caption on it to give it to the judge. They ought to be looking at the judges who signed this stuff.”

Also, you pack a lot of assumptions into B. I'd say neither A nor Not A imply B to begin with, or the way you've set it up, both A and Not A can be true for Not B

"China's human rights abuses - real or imagined"

strong astroturf post

Hey, 50 cents go a long way.

+1, the list of China's human rights abuses is far longer and worse than anything the US has been guilty of in half a century or more.

Furthermore, the US intelligence agencies and the US military don't generally cross over to law enforcement. There are certainly questions about overreach on the part of the US, but China is far worse by any rational metric.

Take a look at this list of Chinese political prisoners:

Note the very large number arrested in just the last 10 years.

Politics, indeed, makes smart people stupid.

Let me play it for you.
What if they think if i play Trump hard and harsh, they'll be thinking that's because he's my pawn. Let's treat him nice.

Whether he's or he's not (he is), you're gone bonkers.

I thought SARS was 2003, not 2005.

You are correct, I was in China in late 2002 when the epidemic was spreading -- but none of us knew it at the time. By early 2003 it did become international news.

But, I didn't notice a high degree of illness while I was there nor did I get sick at all.

One of my clients, before it was acquired, had a significant position in a market--I don't want to describe it--that involved ID.

The CEO, ten years ago, said the future was biometric and facial recognition.

It is. Don't look at the Chinese in horror. Accept that biometric facial and other recognition is here, and become dominant in it yourself.

But, unlike China, write laws that deal with privacy and use of technology and encryption.

Think of the blowback the other way.

Do you want to go to China where they will sweep and track your movement and those whom with you interact with,

Or would you rather go to Europe or the US (if we have laws) where your privacy is protected by laws or the courts.

Sometimes laws make things better, and sometimes there absence....

By the way, this is the type of question that should be asked of Kavanaugh in his confirmation hearing: What are your views on privacy rights under the Constitution, etc. Then give him this example of the Chinese crowd sweep.

I can't tell from this post -- were those men identified accurately? Were they in fact the men that the software said they were?

A good question, but perhaps a better one is how many people did they detain to get these 4, and how many cops (technicians, etc.) were required? That is, not only false positives but the system costs.

Does this technology actually work or is it just used as an excuse for the government to snatch anybody they want?

It works. For a while there it was only able to make a guess and a human would need to confirm the ID but now it works as well as a skilled human observer. Or at least it does in the lab. I don't know what Chinese security forces (the term "law enforcement" isn't quite right) is actually doing.

Google is creaming their pants. Is the company for sale?

We laugh when we hear about the 99% conviction rates of Chinese prosecutors. But are their colleagues in the IT field more or less likely to admit mistakes? What degree of accuracy does this system require?

What a load of crap 😂 I cant believe i’m following this blog.

A fitting symbol of life in Trump's America.

LOL a fitting symbol of Thiago's crazy-ass posts. Eastern China = Trump's America!

Trump's America is a key ally of Red China, Modi's India and Shintoist Japan!!

There is a story that China targeted basically all the IoT in Finland during the summit.

Audacious. Just what we need, no witnesses, except for a smart light bulb.

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