Naomi Klein reports in Rolling Stone Magazine on the growing number of surveillance cameras in China. American companies such as IBM, Honeywell and General Electric are trying out the latest technology in a country where there are less human rights and civil liberties issues to deal with.
Many of the technology trends that we warned of in our Report are being installed in China, such as a network of surveillance cameras - both public and private cameras - patched into the police system. The UK government has expressed its desire for such a system in their National CCTV Strategy, and the recent acknowledgement by the police that CCTV is not an effective crime fighting tool is being used to push forward a new upgraded network of surveillance cameras.
The hi-tech surveillance agenda in China is part of a program called "Golden Shield", Naomi Klein writes:
This is how this Golden Shield will work: Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country's notorious system of online controls known as the "Great Firewall." Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and photos that are instantly uploaded to police databases and linked to their holder's personal data. This is the most important element of all: linking all these tools together in a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history and biometric data. When Golden Shield is finished, there will be a photo in those databases for every person in China: 1.3 billion faces.
Here in the UK it is time for us to stand up and say enough is enough, we must not allow the government to roll out a Golden Shield type program here.
You can also hear Naomi Klein talk about Golden Shield on the Guardian podcast at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/audio/2008/jun/03/dennis.klein