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For Olympics, the Chinese Use Eyes in the Sky

Combine technological advancement, a worldwide stage and fears of terrorism, and what do you get? An Orwellian 2008 Summer Olympic Games. From tickets containing RFID chips aimed at preventing fraud and ticket scalping to surveillance cameras set up on the streets monitoring people with state-of the art software, the games beginning August 8 in Beijing bring the fears of 1984 to life. In China, Big Brother is watching you.

IBM announced in December that its Smart Surveillance System, or S3, would be active in Beijing in time for the Olympic Games. The software can analyze information from IP-based cameras as well as analog cameras to detect suspicious patterns of activity and issue alerts. The system is also destined for use in Chicago and Manhattan.

Perhaps more worrisome are rumors of biometric surveillance, including face recognition software, that the Chinese government is deploying to identify dissidents and “terrorists” ahead of the games. Such biometric software will likely affect Chinese citizens, but even foreigners can expect their moves to be tracked.

Last week, a U.S. Senator pointed out that the Chinese planned to monitor hotel guests’ Internet access. While U.S visitors might be worried about their prurient Internet activities, a former deputy assistant secretary of commerce is advising U.S. business travelers to leave their laptops at home to prevent Chinese authorities from spying on information stored on the computer. Since, according to Google and our ISPs, we’re not entitled to privacy anymore, the Summer Games are likely just the beginning.

6 Responses to “For Olympics, the Chinese Use Eyes in the Sky”

  1. The “Olympics Toolbar” mentioned above seems unfinished and kinda confusing. There IS a big button that takes you to an online clothing store selling $18 tee shirts (takes 3 pages to find out the price).

    The toolbar here is much better:

    Links to each Olympic sport, along with RSS feeds that are constantly updated. Also some nice gadgets, including a “Medal Counter” and a “Mini Olympics” game where you can try archery, weightlifting and diving without having to visit a web site. Great for keeping up to date when you’re stuck in the office.

  2. northbritain

    That comes as no surprise. Have you seen their house rules for spectators?

    China doesn’t want anything to reflect on its poor human rights record or the situation in Tibet.

  3. Where have you been? Haven’t you noticed the TSA using profiling, biometrics and databases to look out for ‘terrorists’? Or the FBI / NSA using camera’s to check the crowds in the past few superbowls with face recognition software to weed out ‘criminals’? Or the rampant wiretapping and camera sureveillance going on all over the place? How can you possibly be worried about what China is doing when you started it?!

  4. London(2012), perhaps Chicago(2016) Surveillance security is the issue.

    RFID chips on tickets, like the NFL won’t support that. Face recognition software, how much useless video is already in used. Monitoring internet access, like your provider now doesn’t track Torrent sites.

    Can we separate the two issues. The technology creates possibilities far into the future, it’s the people’s attitude in controlling and deploying this that is the trouble. Curbing the technology because no-one will come too terms with changing man’s attitude is a cop-out.

    We as a free society need to embrace these break-through ideas and show actual proof how too use them to “benefit” a society. Who is going to be the first site to allow visitors to log-into their surveillance network and view a cities current events and attractions. Who is going to be the first to charge a fee to generate additional funds to expand the network without public tax money?

    Your entire “Sponsored” Gallery that’s who…