China is known throughout the world as a country that conducts surveillance campaigns, which include online and real world alike. While the country likes to keep an eye on its citizens, these campaigns are often used for espionage activities as well. Many around the world have always suspected that this might be the case, although a recent development seemingly confirmed their fears.
According to a Duch security researcher, Victor Gevers, the Chinese government has been creating and using a massive facial recognition database. The database was confirmed to contain details regarding various surveillance technologies and tactics used by the Chinese government for oppressing the Uyghur Muslim minority that lives within the country’s borders.
Gevers believes that the government spent months on utilizing the database, only so that they could remotely monitor Uyghur Muslims located in the Xinjiang region. Furthermore, the entire database is treated as the property of a Chinese company called SenseNets, which is a service that provides crowd analysis as well as facial recognition tech by using the surveillance videos.
According to Gevers — who also previously exposed the MongoDB database — the newly discovered database has details regarding 2.5 million users, including a massive amount of GPS coordinates, as well as things like ID card data, such as the nation, birthday, an address, a photo, and more.
The database also contains a list of trackers that individuals have passed within the previous 24 hours, which includes nearly 6.7 million records. This indicates that the database is regularly updated.
However, soon after Gevers posted his findings, the database got protected with a new firewall, blocking all foreign traffic from accessing it.
It is certainly unusual to see China use what is undoubtedly highly advanced technology that costs billions of dollars, simply for monitoring an oppressed minority that does not threaten the country or its society in any way. However, whether or not there is any real suspicion against the Uyghur group, this is still undoubtedly the largest surveillance campaign that was discovered so far.
The collected information is so detailed that it tracks pretty much every part of the Uyghur populace’s daily lives. Throughout the years, China has been denying the violations of any rights reserved for minorities. However, with the discovery of the database, people around the world now have the chance to see how the country’s surveillance system actually works.
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