Public transportation drivers in China are facing disturbing new measures agreed to by the Beijing Public Transport Holding. Drivers will be required to wear electronic bracelets to monitor their emotions. According to authorities, these bracelets will be used to monitor their heart rates, the level of oxygen in the blood, as well as sleep statistics and their emotional state. The authority says this measure is necessary to protect public safety.
Around 1,800 of these devices are already in use among long-distance drivers, and systems for monitoring abnormal behavior of drivers and safety warning systems are planned for the units.
After conducting a pilot project in June, the transportation agency said that “Providing a tracking bracelet is a way of applying technology to strengthen the management of the physical and mental health of drivers.”
Alarms sounded among legal experts when they considered how the little information was shared by authorities about the data that was collected. This appears to be increased control and surveillance by the Chinese regime.
In the name of the common good
In an effort to expand its control unfettered the CCP rationalizes this measure to the general public as a means that offers security and stability, or as a health control tool.
This is the case of mobile phone applications that authorities forced on everyone under the guise of fighting COVID-19.
An example what happened in April in the city of Zhengzhou.
The application works with a semaphore coding system. When the user scans the QR code of a place and it turns green, they have permission to enter; if it is red, they may have COVID-19 and need to be quarantined.
With the announcement came that bank deposits would be frozen for thousands of people, customers began to mobilize to protest against the measures and get their money back. Several people found it impossible to travel when they saw that the green code of the COVID App on their mobile suddenly changed to a red, so they were prohibited from using transportation.
Witness accounts suggest that the regime used the app to prevent people from demonstrating at protests.
Alex Gladstein, director of strategy for the New York-based Human Rights Foundation, wrote on Twitter, “In fact, I would have thought this happened more routinely in the last two years, but apparently this is a watershed time to use health tools to crack down on dissent.”
The all-seeing eye
China today, is the most closely watched country in the world with its 540 million closed-circuit cameras.
The report, based on some 100,000 Chinese regime tender documents, shows how the Chinese police store more than 2.5 billion facial images at all times and how 25 of China’s 31 provinces and regions created databases of DNA, including that of people who have not been convicted of a crime.
According to a police document, the aim of this technology is to “control and manage people.”
Alkan Akad, a China researcher at Amnesty International, told The U.S. Sun online, “Mass surveillance projects like ‘Skynet’ and ‘Sharp Eyes’ are rolled out to keep people under constant observation across China.
“Beijing’s public security agencies are key players in developing this unprecedented expansion of surveillance. Biometric surveillance is ubiquitous in northwest China’s Uyghur Autonomous Xinjiang.
“Biometric surveillance tools, including facial recognition software, are among the most invasive digital surveillance technologies that enable governments to identify and track people in public spaces or distinguish them based on their physiological or behavioral characteristics.
“These technologies pose a clear threat to the rights to privacy, freedom of assembly, expression, religion, and nondiscrimination.”
Be good or bad , according to the CCP
With surveillance cameras and facial recognition software, artificial intelligence (AI) and the social credit system come into play to judge the behavior of citizens.
China’s social credit system rewards or punishes citizens by judging their behavior according to the standard imposed by the CCP at the time.
It is measured with a point system, for example, paying debts on time means a good deed rewarded with points, and making a comment critical of the CCP on social networks would be a bad deed, so the points would decrease.
The number of points determines the power to access priority medical care, travel tickets, internet speeds, and bank credits, for example. The program aims to “educate” citizens by giving freedoms to those who behave as “good” citizens and limits the movements of those who do not conform to the regime’s preference.
The large amount of individual data that is collected to apply this system is in the public domain and since it is mandatory for all citizens, they cannot choose to maintain their privacy.
Mobility and even the ability to survive have been severely restricted for those on the government’s blacklist by deducting their points, also affecting their families.
The criteria for applying the points do not follow a standard and vary from place to place. The sanctions do not consider a trial or the right to appeal to be removed from the blacklist.
Roger Garside, a former diplomat who served as professor of China Studies at the U.S. Navy Postgraduate School, said that China is the most advanced techno-totalitarian state the world has ever seen with extensive censorship. He added, “What I’ve been told by people who grew up in mainland China and have relatives who still live there is that while people prefer to live in a free country, they know they’re not living in a free country and many of them adjusted to that fact and convinced themselves that they should be content with what they have.”
Garside said that the Chinese try to convince themselves that they are happy with their lives. But that’s not the same thing as being loyal to the regime and it certainly isn’t human happiness.
He said, “I visited China for 30 days in 2017, met 58 people, and was struck by the uncertain sense of self-identity that everyone I met had.”
He compared mainland Chinese to people in Taiwan. Taiwanese he said are “outgoing, they have a good and comfortable sense of their own identity.”
Garside concluded, “But in China, I find people who are very, very insecure.”