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China’s AI Deployment in Africa Poses Risks to Security and Sovereignty

source: aspistrategist.com

The competition to dominate Africa’s artificial intelligence and critical infrastructure markets is geopolitical and Beijing is racing for the lead. During the past 20 years, China has been rapidly building its communications infrastructure and advancing data-surveillance capabilities globally, and has taken a strong interest in spearheading development of Africa’s technology markets. President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative has been the primary conduit for China’s expansion on the continent.

When the BRI was first introduced in 2013, many African leaders shared Xi’s view that inadequate infrastructure was the greatest barrier to economic development. So far, 40 out of 54 African countries have signed BRI agreements.

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China’s Paper Tiger Surveillance State

source: thediplomat.com

The CCP’s pervasive surveillance apparatus is a sign not of strength, but of fragility.

China is the quintessential surveillance state: cameras perch on every street corner and bots monitor every corner of the internet. Chinese officials believe these measures will enable them to anticipate and preempt threats to the regime. But might Beijing’s growing reliance on surveillance actually weaken the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s hold on power?

China’s surveillance network is expansive and pervasive. Chongqing, for example, holds the dubious distinction of being the “most surveilled city in the world,” with roughly one camera for every six of its 30 million residents. Facial recognition systems identify those captured on camera, instantly recording their ethnicity and party membership. The state wastes no opportunity to gather biometric data, weaponizing it against Uyghurs and others suspected of disloyalty. And on WeChat – the Chinese equivalent of Facebook, WhatsApp, and Apple Pay combined – government monitors are ever-present. At the cutting edge, Chinese officials are testing artificial intelligence-powered analytics, which purport to predict unrest before it occurs.

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Powerful Video and Radar Surveillance Helps Protect United States’ Northern Border

source: ifsecglobal.com

An increasing number of remote video surveillance towers using AI and radar are being deployed to help counter illegal activity on the US-Canada border, as Ron Alalouff reports.

There’s been a great deal of publicity and controversy around the United States’ southern border with Mexico over the past few years – wall or no wall – but far less attention has been paid to its northern border with Canada. Yet an increase in illegal cross-border activities has led to the installation of a series of remote surveillance towers, bristling with powerful cameras and associated hardware.

An example of these remote video surveillance systems (RVSS) is along a 360-mile stretch of border surrounded by vast expanses of water – from Buffalo in New York to Detroit and Port Huron in Michigan – an area awash with thousands of pleasure craft, numerous marinas and hidden canals and channels.

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Singapore’s Navy Tests a New Layer of Surveillance: Unmanned Vessels

MELBOURNE, Australia – Singapore is testing unmanned surface vessels with a locally developed, AI-driven navigation algorithm that could be used for maritime security operations in the congested but strategically important waters around the southeast Asian island nation.

Upon completion, the Republic of Singapore Navy is expected to then field four USVs in the role. The country’s defense ministry said this will add another layer of surveillance and operational response for its maritime borders.

 

The ministry added that the vessels will be able to conduct round-the-clock patrols, providing persistence at sea. This means the navy’s larger, manned warships can be freed up and deployed more strategically for other missions. Continue reading “Singapore’s Navy Tests a New Layer of Surveillance: Unmanned Vessels”

There Are Spying Eyes Everywhere—and Now They Share a Brain

source: wired.com

Security cameras. License plate readers. Smartphone trackers. Drones. We’re being watched 24/7. What happens when all those data streams fuse into one?

ONE AFTERNOON IN the fall of 2019, in a grand old office building near the Arc de Triomphe, I was buzzed through an unmarked door into a showroom for the future of surveillance. The space on the other side was dark and sleek, with a look somewhere between an Apple Store and a doomsday bunker. Along one wall, a grid of electronic devices glinted in the moody downlighting—automated license plate readers, Wi-Fi-enabled locks, boxy data processing units. I was here to meet Giovanni Gaccione, who runs the public safety division of a security technology company called Genetec. Headquartered in Montreal, the firm operates four of these “Experience Centers” around the world, where it peddles intelligence products to government officials. Genetec’s main sell here was software, and Gaccione had agreed to show me how it worked.

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In a Topsy-Turvy Pandemic World, China Offers Its Version of Freedom

source:  nytimes.com

Surveillance and censorship bolster Beijing’s uncompromising grip on power. But in the country’s cities and streets, people have resumed normal lives.

 

Duncan Clark’s flight was rolling down the runway in Paris in late October when President Emmanuel Macron announced a second national lockdown in France. The country had nearly 50,000 new Covid-19 infections that day. The United States had almost 100,000.

He sighed with relief. He was headed to China. That day, it had reported 25 new infections, all but one originating abroad.

Mr. Clark, a businessman and an author, returned to China after spending nine months in the United States and France, his longest time away from the country since he moved to Beijing in 1994. He had been spending more time outside China over the past few years to get away from air pollution, censored internet and an increasingly depressing political environment.

But when he returned in October, he felt something new: safe, energized and free.

“The ability to just live a normal life is pretty amazing,” he said.

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US State Department issues guidance on implementing UN Guiding Principles for transactions linked to foreign government end-users for surveillance technology

source: business-humanrights.org

 

 

“U.S. Department of State Guidance on Implementing the ‘UN Guiding Principles’ for Transactions Linked to Foreign Government End-Users for Products or Services with Surveillance Capabilities”, 30 September 2020

The U.S. Department of State is committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. In that spirit, U.S. businesses should carefully review this voluntary guidance and consider whether to participate in, or continue to participate in, transactions if they identify a risk that the end-user will likely misuse the product or service to carry out human rights violations or abuses. The responsibility of U.S. businesses to respect human rights does not depend on the size, sector, operational context, ownership, or structure of the business…

U.S. businesses are encouraged to integrate human rights due diligence into compliance programs, including export compliance programs…

Review the capabilities of the product or service in question to determine potential for misuse to commit human rights violations or abuses by foreign government end-users or private end-users that have close relationships with a foreign government…

Review the human rights record of the foreign government agency end-user of the country intended to receive the product or service…

Review, including through in-house or outside counsel, whether the foreign government end-user’s laws, regulations, and policies that implicate products and services with surveillance capabilities are consistent with the UDHR…

How to ‘Disappear’ on Happiness Avenue in Beijing

On a busy Monday afternoon in late October, a line of people in reflective vests stood on Happiness Avenue, in downtown Beijing.


Moving slowly and carefully along the pavement, some crouched, others tilted their heads towards the ground, as curious onlookers snapped photos.

It was a performance staged by the artist Deng Yufeng, who was trying to demonstrate how difficult it was to dodge CCTV cameras in the Chinese capital.

As governments and companies around the world boost their investments in security networks, hundreds of millions more surveillance cameras are expected to be installed in 2021 – and most of them will be in China, according to industry analysts IHS Markit.

By 2018, there were already about 200 million surveillance cameras in China.

And by 2021 this number is expected to reach 560 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, roughly one for every 2.4 citizens.

China says the cameras prevent crime.

And in 2018, the number of victims of intentional homicide per head of population in China was 10 times lower than in the US, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

But a growing number of Chinese citizens are questioning the effect on their privacy.

They also wonder what would happen if their personal data was compromised.

‘Recruited volunteers’

It is rare for Chinese citizens to stage protests against government surveillance.

And it is not without risk.

But creative types such as Deng are coming up with innovative ways to bring the issue out into the open.

Before the performance, he measured the length and width of Happiness Avenue with a ruler.

He then recorded the brands of the 89 CCTV cameras alongside it and mapped out their distributions and ranges.

Sci-fi Surveillance: Europe’s Secretive Push Into Biometric Technology

source: theguardian.com

 

 

 

surveillance illustration
EU science funding is being spent on developing new tools for policing and security. But who decides how far we need to submit to artificial intelligence?.

atrick Breyer didn’t expect to have to take the European commission to court. The softly spoken German MEP was startled when in July 2019 he read about a new technology to detect from facial “micro-expressions” when somebody is lying while answering questions.

Even more startling was that the EU was funding research into this virtual mindreader through a project called iBorderCtrl, for potential use in policing Europe’s borders. In the article that Breyer read, a reporter described taking a test on the border between Serbia and Hungary. She told the truth, but the AI border guard said she had lied.

A member of the European parliament’s civil liberties committee and one of four MEPs for the Pirate party, Breyer realised that iBorderCtrl’s ethical and privacy implications were immense. He feared that if such technology – or as he now calls it, “pseudo-scientific security hocus pocus” – was available to those in charge of policing borders, then people of colour, women, elderly people, children and people with disabilities could be more likely than others to be falsely reported as liars.

Using EU transparency laws, he requested more information from the European commission on the ethics and legality of the project. Its response was jarring: access denied, in the name of protecting trade secrets.

So Breyer sued. He wants the European court of justice to rule that there is an overriding public interest in releasing the documents. “The European Union is funding illegal technology that violates fundamental rights and is unethical,” Breyer claimed.

Breyer’s case, which is expected to come before the court in the new year, has far-reaching implications. Billions of euros in public funding flow annually to researching controversial security technologies, and at least €1.3bn more will be released over the next seven years.

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surveillance illustration

U.S.-made technologies are aiding China’s surveillance of Uighurs. How should Washington respond?

source: washingtonpost.com & wvnews.com


The sweeping surveillance China has brought to bear against its Uighur Muslim minority is staggering. An overwhelming number of cameras generate an overwhelming amount of footage. Until recently, it was unclear how authorities sifted through it to serve their repressive ends. Now, the New York Times has provided an answer: with the help of U.S.-made technologies.

 

An investigation published this month reveals how supercomputers chug away inside a cloud computing complex in the Xinjiang region. Purportedly, these computers can analyze 1,000 video feeds simultaneously and search more than 100 million photos in a single second. The aim is to monitor cars, phones and faces — putting together patterns of behavior for “predictive policing” that justifies snatching people off the street for imprisonment or so-called reeducation. This complex opened four years ago, and it operates on the power of chips manufactured by U.S. supercomputer companies Intel and Nvidia.

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