BBC journalist tries to ‘evade’ China’s CCTV surveillance network, here’s what happened | world news | Hindustan Times
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BBC journalist tries to ‘evade’ China’s CCTV surveillance network, here’s what happened

BBC journalist John Sudworth let authorities take his photo and circulate it on their surveillance system for the record. He was tracked in less than seven minutes.

world Updated: Dec 14, 2017 15:49 IST
Chinese officials say the  CCTV cameras are capable of linking faces to ID cards and can also estimate age, ethnicity, and gender of a person
Chinese officials say the CCTV cameras are capable of linking faces to ID cards and can also estimate age, ethnicity, and gender of a person(Twitter/ Screengrab(BBC))

It takes only minutes for authorities in China to track and arrest a suspicious person using their all-pervasive closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras and face recognition technology network.

A BBC journalist John Sudworth was given rare access to put the world’s most sophisticated surveillance system, which Chinese officials say helps in keeping a tab on people and their activities, identify others they meet and trace their path back in time for a full week, to test in China’s Guiyang city.

So, Sudworth let authorities take his photo and circulate it on their surveillance system for the record. He sauntered around in a public place, trying to evade the CCTV cameras around and blend with the crowd.

But to his surprise, the cameras identified him as a “suspect”, flagged the authorities who swung into action and apprehended him - and all of that in less than seven minutes.

China boasts of the largest surveillance system in the world with over 170 million CCTV cameras across the country. Another 400 million are to be installed by 2020. Chinese officials say the cameras are capable of linking faces to ID cards and can also estimate age, ethnicity, and gender of a person.

Although the surveillance network has helped China in better policing and crime prevention, rights activists say it may infringe on individual privacy.