Concert Arrest Demonstrates Growing Biometric Power of Chinese Police

Police in China are making a big song and dance over the arrest of person of interest at a music concert via the use of facial recognition technology.Concert Arrest Demonstrates Growing Biometric Power of Chinese Police

The individual, identified only by the surname Ao, was in a crowd of somewhere over 50,000 people, and was wanted in connection with an unspecified “economic crime”. Speaking to press, a police officer boasted about the surprise of the arrest, asserting that the suspect “was very shocked and had a blank face when we caught him.”

Police authorities are evidently keen to trumpet the power of their biometric surveillance systems, their use of which has recently been expanding. Earlier this year, police deployed face-scanning smart glasses at busy traffic areas to help catch fugitives and other persons of interest, and more recently reports have emerged of public biometric surveillance systems designed to automatically flag even minor transgressions like jaywalking. SenseTime, a facial recognition and video analytics specialist based in China, is said to be developing a platform called ‘Viper’ that will apply facial recognition technology to thousands of live surveillance feeds simultaneously.

While the biometric technology is the key focus of Ao’s arrest, at least in how the police have framed the incident, it may also have been meant as a kind of demonstration of the mainland’s authority: The concert Ao was attending was headlined by Jacky Cheung, one of the biggest stars from Hong Kong, a semiautonomous region that has been coming under increased political pressure from Beijing.

Sources: The Verge, South China Morning Post, The Telegraph

April 16, 2018 – by Alex Perala