This past Sunday, AFP reported that China moved forward with a plan to require telecom operators to collect face scans when they register new phone users at offline outlets according to a report from the country’s information technology ministry.
China’s move to carry out facial scans is part of its campaign to strengthen its cyberspace controls.
In September, China’s industry and information technology ministry released a notice on “safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of citizens online”, which set rules for enforcing real-name registration.
The notice recommended that telecom operators use “artificial intelligence and other technical means” to confirm people’s identities when they acquire a new phone number.
A China Unicom customer service representative told AFP that the December 1 “portrait matching” requirement would make customers registering for a new phone number have to record themselves blinking and turning their head in order to verify their identity.
“In next steps, our ministry will continue to…increase supervision and inspection…and strictly promote the management of real-name registration for phone users,” the September notice stated.
Since 2013, the Chinese government has advocated for real-name registration for phone users. In other words, ID cards would be linked to new phone numbers. Now, however, the Chinese government is pivoting towards AI as facial recognition gains popularity across China where the technology is used in a broad range of activities ranging from supermarket checkouts to surveillance.
Chinese social media users had a mixed reaction towards the December 1 facial verification notice. Many expressed concerns that their biometric data could be leaked or sold.
“This is a bit too much,” one user posted under an article about China’s new rules on the Twitter knock-off Weibo.
“Control, and then more control,” another user posted.
Although researchers are worried about the privacy risks that gathering facial recognition data entails, Chinese consumers have largely accepted the technology.
However, China witnessed one of its first lawsuits on facial recognition last month.
In early November, a Chinese professor sued a safari park in Hangzhou for mandating face scans before entering the venue, according to the local court.
Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China has taken a more authoritarian turn that is reminiscent of the Maoist era.
With 21st century technology at their disposal, China is pushing the limits of hi-tech authoritarianism.
Such displays of government overreach could likely be exported to the West if U.S. companies and elected officials don’t take a stand against China and re-assert Western-style civil liberties.
U.S. Law Enforcement Bust 27 People Connected to Mexican Sinaloa Cartel
Over two dozen people were arrested on drug charges in connection to a Mexican cartel smuggling cocaine into the U.S. Following a two-year investigation, 27 people were arrested through Operation Tripwire, an investigation effort U.S. officials have been working on featuring members of the Sinaloa Cartel.
The trafficking network went from Los Angeles, California to Tucson, Arizona and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where cocaine originating from Mexico was smuggled stateside. The United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Scott Brady declared “this is a large organization that was trafficking hundreds of kilograms of cocaine throughout the country and has direct ties to the Sinaloa cartel in Mexico.”
U.S. authorities recounted that the investigations started after an agent in Pittsburgh was able to identify an address that received large quantities of suspicious-looking packages coming from California. Since then, agents started to do investigation on other members of the network across the U.S.
Across the span of seven months, authorities were able to intercept U.S. calls made by some of the alleged traffickers with Sinaloa carte leaders in Mexico. On September 9, 2020, 27 were arrested in Arizona, California, and Pennsylvania.
According to American authorities, $1.3 million in cash and over 140 kilograms of cocaine were seized. The aforementioned people arrested are now facing a prison sentence of between 10 years and life in prison.
The border situation is no joke. Prior administrations have largely neglected the issue and have allowed for unprecedented levels of illegal immigration and drug trafficking to cross the U.S. border.
In a prior instance, BLP reported on how Mexico is a failed state that cannot maintain public order and is largely being pushed around by cartels. Due to its proximity to the U.S., Mexico’s problems will likely spillover stateside.
This is why border security is crucial. Thankfully, the U.S. has a president in Donald Trump that gets the memo. He’ll still need help from Congress, however,
That’s why it’s crucial that America First Republicans have strong showings at all branches of government in 2020.
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