Posted by: elambend | August 17, 2007

A Magnate in the Big Brother Industry

All governments try in multiple ways to track their citizens, Britain has made it a proud policy to have cameras everywhere.  However, in their effort to become the fastest growing in everything, the Chinese are seeing how quickly and deeply they can get into their subjects…er, citizens business.  I’m not sure how quickly you can put a bead on a billion people, particularly people who have had 6,000 years practice in laying low, but in Shenzhen the local authorities are trying all angles, including:

  •  Facial recognition cameras everywhere
  • Personal Residency cards fitted to include
    • “not just the citizen’s name and address but also work history, educational background, religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status and landlord’s phone number. Even personal reproductive history will be included, for enforcement of China’s controversial “one child” policy. Plans are being studied to add credit histories, subway travel payments and small purchases charged to the card.”
  • Even tracking the police with GPS and cell-phone tri-angulation

One interesting angle is a Chinese entrepreneur getting rich off of the security buildup, particularly the Florida-based printing company that he turned into a leading Chinese Security company :

Mr. Lin bought an obscure e-commerce business here three years ago and changed its business focus. He then did a so-called reverse merger, in which he bought a tiny Florida printing company with sparsely traded stock, renamed it China Public Security, and turned the software business here into a subsidiary of the American company.

I wonder if he keeps the U.S. business just in case his biggest customer decides that that maybe they just don’t need to pay him anymore.  Despite my queasiness at his choice of customer (and business), it’s very interesting.  It’s also a great opportunity for the In-security business, to help those who prefer to avoid the all seeing eye of Uncle Mao.

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