China to Implement Widespread Facial Recognition Database in Effort to Surpass the US as the World’s Leader in Dystopian Nightmare Technology

Just two short years ago at a biometrics conference in London, a senior-level technologist at the FBI poo-pooed the idea of implementing a massive facial recognition database upon the American people.  Not for any legal concerns, mind you; he just thought the technology wasn’t there yet.  The guy did concede one point:

“If we were prepared to spend a few hundred million dollars and add several hundred people as skilled examiners we probably could do positive identification from faces in a decade, but I think it’s unlikely we will choose to make that sort of investment.”

Well, good news, fans of oppressive hellscapes!  The Chinese government already decided to spend that kind of money, working with a security company called Isvision.  From the South China Morning Post:

Isvision confirmed to the South China Morning Post that it had won the contract last year but declined to provide details.

“The progress of development is confidential. At present we have no information for public disclosure,” a company spokesperson said.

Isvision security cameras with facial recognition capabilities were first deployed in Tiananmen Square as early as 2003, according to the company’s website.

The system was connected to the police database of suspects, capable of recognising and tracking potential targets in a large crowd.

The company has also set up similar systems for law enforcement authorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, where riots have broken out from time to time because of serious ethnic conflicts.

The article also mentions commercial applications of the technology which are, of course, already in place and improving (read: getting scarier) constantly.  So whichever vision of a frightening, oppressive sci-fi dystopia you’re partial to- Minority Report is a go-to for me–plan on referencing it more in your daily conversation in the near future.