China uses artificial intelligence to track Uyghurs – New York Times

File Reuters

UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — The Chinese authorities are using a large-scale system based on facial recognition technology to track members of the Uighur minority across the country, according to a New York Times report.

Beijing has been widely criticized for its handling of the Uighurs in the Xinjiang region, where one million mostly Muslim minority members of Turkish-speaking minority Muslims are held in detention camps, according to an UN commission.

But according to the New York Times report released on Sunday, face recognition technology was integrated into China’s huge CCTV network to identify Uighurs based on their appearance to keep records of their movements across China.

Reports indicate that police are currently using artificial intelligence technology to target Uighurs outside Xinjiang, including in rich cities like Hangzhou and Wenzhou. In one city, the scan was conducted 500,000 times in one month to find Uyghurs.

Beijing announced in 2017 its plan to become a global leader in the industry associated with artificial intelligence. But there have been concerns among the international community that the new smart technology is being used in the police’s tight policing for many years after the country’s internal ethnic tensions.

The New York Times quoted experts as saying it was the first time that a government was using artificial intelligence to deliberately track people on racial grounds, amid the possibility that new systems could spread in several cities across the country.

In central China’s Shaanxi Province, authorities reportedly “sought a system of smart cameras last year, capable of recognizing faces to differentiate between Uighurs and non-Uighurs.”

The New York Times reported that China’s Ministry of Public Security had not responded to a faxed request to comment on the matter.

China denies reports of large-scale arrests in Xinjiang, saying it runs educational training centers as part of its campaign to combat what it calls Islamic extremism in the region.

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