Police in China are now equipped with special high-tech ‘smart glasses’ that can access ‘instant intelligence’ on any given person.
Despite heavy criticism from several human rights groups, the Chinese government have given officers in the central city of Zhengzhou digital shades that allow them to instantly spot a potential suspect and arrest them on the spot.
So far the technology has allowed police to arrest seven suspects accused of human trafficking and hit-and-runs.
AFP reports: The system is part of China’s efforts to build a digital surveillance system able to use a variety of biometric data – from photos and iris scans to fingerprints – to keep close tabs on the movements of the entire population.
The rapid development of the technology has triggered a demand for commercial applications of the technology as well, with gyms, restaurants and even public toilets getting in on the facial recognition game.
The special glasses are being used by four officers positioned at the entrances to Zhengzhou’s east station, according to the People’s Daily.
The glasses have a camera connected to a smartphone-like device that allows the officers to take mugshots of suspicious individuals and compare them to a database back at headquarters.
The app brings up the suspect’s vital information, including name, ethnicity, gender and address.
It also tells officers whether the possible perps are on the run from the law, the address of the hotel where they are staying and information related to their internet usage.
Experts say China is racing ahead of Western countries in deploying facial scanners owing to its comparatively lax privacy laws and because Chinese are used to having their pictures, fingerprints and other personal details taken.
Banks are beginning to use facial recognition instead of cards at cash machines while the travel and leisure industry also sees opportunities – China Southern Airlines this year began doing away with boarding passes in favour of the scheme.
But the programmes have drawn fierce criticism from human rights organisations and privacy advocates, who are concerned by their potential for abuse.