The scene looks right out of a science-fiction film or a video game.
Pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong facing a flank of police behind shields attack them with lasers that flit through smoke from teargas shells. They are not just trying to confuse and distract cops, they are also trying to dodge the surveillance cameras.
Pitted against the might of Chinese surveillance state which has developed technology based on artificial intelligence to identify and track down people in crowds, Hong Kong protesters have devised their own ways to beat that tech. Laser is one of them. Earlier, they used umbrellas to hide their faces and spray-painted surveillance cameras.
Hong Kong protestors are on another level. Here they’re using lasers to avoid facial recognition cameras. A cyber war against Chinese artificial intelligence. pic.twitter.com/t1hIczr5Go
— Alessandra (@alessabocchi) July 31, 2019
Protesters are going “digitally dark” in various ways from simply turning off location tracking on mobile phones to buying tickets to travel in metro trains instead of using their smart cards which can be used to track their movements.
China has developed advanced technology to pick out a person in a crowd of thousands. It has gone one step ahead of face-recognition technology by inventing a gait-recognition system that can not only profile people on the basis of their postures, but can even send alerts when someone is found committing a violation. Some Chinese cities are piloting this system. It works on the assumption that every person’s posture is unique and can be profiled and then identified through surveillance cameras at public places.
Hong Kong protesters are demanding withdrawal of the Fugitives Bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China. The bill has been suspended.
Currently, under “one country, two systems” model being followed after the UK handed over Hong Kong to China in 1997, Hong Kong is not required by law to extradite the accused to China. People fear that the new law would be used to suppress critics of the Chinese government which would then be extradited to mainland China.