On 7th April 2018, a 31-year-old suspect wanted by Chinese police attended a music concert in a stadium of about 60,000 people. He thought he could mingle in the huge crowd safely. The police came for him in the middle of the concert.
In a country of more than 1 billion people, picking up one particular suspect at a public event of about 60,000 people is not an easy task.
According to one of the police officers, the man was left in disbelief after his arrest: “He was completely shocked when we took him away. He couldn’t fathom that police could so quickly capture him in a crowd of 60,000.”
Over there in China, police are making more use of facial recognition technology to identify and pickup wanted criminals. The technology ensures that as soon as the police have the photograph of any suspect, virtually all the CCTV cameras in town will be on the lookout for him. So also will the dark shades worn by the police.
Because apart from CCTV cameras, Chinese police now wear facial recognition glasses which can identify a criminal or a wanted suspect when the police looks around at people. There’s little space in China for a criminal to roam around freely.
The number of facial recognition cameras in China are estimated at more than 170 million. Even their public toilets contain facial recognition devices!
The facial recognition data is combined with a big database of citizens’ records to monitor them and keep eyes on what they’re doing, where they’re going, what they’re doing etc. This very aggressive tracking of citizens has quite understandably raised a lot of human rights and privacy concerns. It’s quite dangerous because in time, the government can use its capabilities to silence all opposition and to be more authoritarian.
In the meantime, there’s little doubt that criminals in China will not be very happy and safe from arrest.