Creating a global alarm, China has recorded over 75,000 coronavirus cases alone within two months. China has always been technologically advanced, and the country is continuously working to enhance its strength in science and technology. Now, China has come up with a unique decision to boost its mass surveillance capabilities using the coronavirus outbreak. The latest technology is going to help contain the epidemic in China.
The government has mobilized its surveillance system to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Experts say it can be utilized even after the virus has been contained. Beijing has discovered some practical ways to track the Chinese population, along with facial recognition. Millions of people will be subject to independent monitoring once they return to major cities and resume their work.
As per reports, the latest facial recognition and temperature scanning technology have been installed in public transport systems. China, the second-largest economy of the country, is attempting to control the spread of the virus which is believed to have emerged from Wuhan city in Hubei province. Nearly 2,500 people have died so far in the mainland due to the outbreak of the deadly virus.
Drones and QR codes
Besides using facial recognition to track people, China has decided to use novel methods based on existing technology. To give an example and to make people better understand the technology, the Chinese state-backed Global Times has posted a video on Twitter. In the video, a drone is interacting with people and telling them to wear masks and also wash hands after going back to home. It is seen advising people not to wander unnecessarily outside the house as it can be unsafe.
To develop the technology, the Chinese government has sought the help of tech giants like, WeChat, Tencent and Alibaba subsidiary, Ant Financial, which runs payments app Alipay. WeChat and Alipay users can put their Chinese ID numbers and where they have travelled. After that, the users will be assigned a QR code based on a traffic light colour system which instructs them about how long they need to be in quarantine. A QR code is a type of barcode which is widely used on digital platforms in China.
‘Catalyst’ for Mass Surveillance
Talking about the future scopes of the technology, Maya Wang, the senior researcher on China at Human Rights Watch, pointed to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which “gave the Chinese government, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), and it’s mass surveillance agenda a further opportunity.”
“The Party has increasingly treated ‘stability maintenance’ — a euphemism for social control — as an overarching priority, and devoted enormous resources to security agencies for monitoring dissidents, breaking up protests, censoring the internet, and developing and implementing mass surveillance systems,” she claimed.