Police in China Expand Use of Biometric Wearables

“It’s the latest indicator of the prominence of biometric technology in China, with facial recognition systems being particularly widespread.”

Police authorities in China appear to be expanding their use of biometric smartglasses.Police in China Expand Use of Biometric Wearables

News of the devices first came to light when police used them to surveil a busy railway station in Zhengzhou last month. Equipped with built-in cameras, the glasses are paired with a handheld device that can match the facial biometrics of individuals they look at to those of wanted criminals and other persons of interest in police databases. Police reportedly praised the technology after that trial, saying it helped to catch fugitives.

Now, police are using the biometric smartglasses at a highway checkpoint outside of Beijing, with the technology able to identify not only the individuals within vehicles, but also license plate numbers. With respect to the latter, the system is again designed to flag cars within police databases, further expanding the tool’s use as a criminal dragnet.

It’s the latest indicator of the prominence of biometric technology in China, with facial recognition systems being particularly widespread. While some of the applications of the technology are anodyne or even benign, in many cases it is being used for surveillance purposes, raising alarm bells for civil rights advocates as government power is increasingly consolidated through measures such as the state’s recent abolition of term limits for President. At the same time, there is no reason to doubt the police authorities’ enthusiasm for what they see as a powerful new law enforcement tool in the biometric smartglasses now in use.

Sources: Financial Tribune, Business Insider

March 12, 2018 – by Alex Perala