Does China Actually Spy on its Citizens?

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Does China Actually Spy on its Citizens?

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Governments spying on their citizens through social media and facial recognition seems like it could be straight out of a movie. This kind of technology is no longer only a figment of the silver screen, as China and more countries are using advanced surveillance technology to spy on their citizens.

China, under President Xi Jinping, has been developing extensive camera systems that have the capability to track phones, and possibly faces. This technology is run by the Chinese foreign ministry and telecommunications company Huawei. For the past few years, other countries have also been using the system.

In Ecuador, it is called ECU-911. It was brought to the country by then-president Rafael Correa (who is now wanted in Ecuador) in hopes of halting the alarming murder rates and stopping drug-related crime. The cameras are everywhere, from the busy streets of Quito to the Amazon jungle. However, since the implementation of the system, crimes that have happened on camera still have no police response.

But in China, this technology is used in a manner that is much more extreme. Social media app WeChat, used by many in China,  is used by the government to monitor the Chinese citizens, specifically the Uyghur Muslims from Xinjiang. The Chinese have been cracking down on WeChat activity that is what they deem suspicious activity, which they describe as information about violence, pornography, and/or terrorism. However, the people who have been cited for illegal usage of WeChat have only been expressing their religion.

After a series of terror attacks throughout China attributed to the Uyghur people, daily check-ins began. Every time someone enters the city of Xinjiang, their face is scanned. The government has a database of DNA of the Uyghurs with the hopes of building a biometric database as well as voice recognition software.

There’s really no telling what spying capability the U.S. government has on us, but the thought of mass surveillance is frightening, to say the least. If it happens in China, what’s to stop it from happening here?