Earlier this month, a Chinese company that took advantage of the deployment of AI-powered surveillance equipment in Xinjiang momentarily released some of its code online, providing insight into how tech companies are following. the Uyghur people of the region on behalf of the Chinese government.
In what can only be described as massive hogwash, someone – likely a software engineer employed by Dahua Technology, the supplier of surveillance equipment – released the company’s software development kit for monitoring tools. video tracking, specially designed to identify Uyghurs. Munich-based software security engineer Serge Bazanski came across the code on Github and tweeted screenshots, as well as a link to the full Dahua code on Y Combinator’s Hacker News, November 2.
Dahua removed his kit from Github soon after, but it was archived on the Wayback Machine.
The code includes race-based tagging and tracking, along with identifiers of seemingly harmless physical traits, such as if a scanned subject has a beard, wears a mask, or wears a purse or backpack. Among other visibly quantifiable traits, it categorizes the clothes a person wears and, apparently, the person’s emotional state: ORDINARY, ANGER, DISGUST, FEAR, CONFUSED, YELL, and more.
As long as someone who is already being tracked remains in sight of Dahua’s cameras, the algorithm can determine the mode of transport used, right down to the vehicle’s make, and identify their license plate. And the system is designed to integrate with any hardware that has a camera and an internet connection, co-opting things like ATMs into part of the device network that tracks Uyghurs.
In response to Bazanski’s post on Hacker News, one coder wrote: “It makes me sick because I could see myself and a lot of people I know doing the same thing, under the right circumstances, without even too much coercion, just write some business logic … “
Dahua is partly state-owned and its shares are traded on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. It’s China’s second-largest surveillance firm, Hong Kong report says Morning Message from South China. In 2016 and 2017, Dahua and another Chinese company, Hikvision, won contracts worth around $ 1.2 billion offered by the Chinese government to set up surveillance systems in “smart cities” and the “safe cities” of Xinjiang. Dahua is in charge of six of the 11 projects, including one in Yarkant County, where more than 100 Uyghurs and Han Chinese were killed in the riots of July 2014.
In October 2019, Dahua and Hikvision were placed on the US Department of Commerce’s Entity List because they were “involved in human rights violations and abuses in the Chinese campaign against Uyghurs and others. predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities ”in Xinjiang – part of a campaign that academics and observers have called cultural genocide. The ban actually prevented companies from importing technology products from the United States, but Chinese companies can still sell their equipment and software to American buyers. Earlier this year, in March, Dahua showcased its product line at a security show in Las Vegas, looking for potential sales to U.S. companies just before the COVID-19 pandemic raged in states. -United.
The following month, Dahua struck a $ 10 million deal with Amazon to provide the company with 1,500 thermal cameras that monitor the body temperatures of its workers.
“The system is designed to be integrated into any hardware with a camera and internet connection, co-opting things like ATMs into part of the device network that tracks Uyghurs.“
The Chinese government is implementing drastic measures to suppress the expression of the culture and religion of Uyghur Muslims. He banned “unusually long” beards and jailed men who refuse to shave facial hair; the verdict in one case was a six-year prison sentence. Women are not allowed to wear the veil in public. Over the past three years, thousands of mosques have been demolished or damaged. Historic sites and cemeteries have been razed to the ground over the past decade.
Uyghurs in Xinjiang can also be detained if they communicate with people outside the region, especially if they use VPNs and blocked apps like WhatsApp. Even setting a clock or watch two hours behind Beijing to “Ürümqi time” – the distance between Beijing and the capital of Xinjiang is about the same as that from New York to Denver – may attract attention. authorities.
Today, up to one million Uyghurs at any given time are being held in nearly 400 thought transformation facilities built by the Chinese government. This form of detention is arbitrary, with reasons given such as “minor religious infection”, “relatives abroad” and even “the thought is difficult to understand”. On these sites, there are classes to “reform” Uyghurs who are being held against their will through what the Chinese government calls “education and vocational training.” Uyghurs who have “graduated” from these institutions say the Chinese government’s ultimate goal is to erase their language and traditions.
In his book The room where it happenedFormer White House national security adviser John Bolton says President Trump has encouraged Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping to continue building detention camps in Xinjiang. Trump disputes this account.
In August, the Biden campaign compared China’s treatment of Uyghur Muslims to “genocide” and said Joe Biden “opposed it in the strongest terms.” And during the Democratic debate in Charleston, Biden called Xi a “thug”.
Monday, a Chinese state newspaper People’s Daily posted a long defense on Facebook titled “Is this really genocide?”
There are no gas chambers in Xinjiang, but the Chinese government is targeting the Uyghur population to erase their cultural identity. Nominally an autonomous region, Xinjiang is under the iron grip of the Chinese government, with CCP cadres sent to oversee security issues under the guise of counterterrorism and poverty reduction. Xi Jinping describes his own policies and the actions of the Chinese government in Xinjiang as “completely correct”. Meanwhile, Chinese tech companies are now offering an automated way to monitor, track, and monitor the people of Xinjiang, tying their fates together with algorithmic black boxes.
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