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Police in China begin wearing facial recognition 'spy glasses' in new security push

Chinese state deploys facial recognition and AI on the streets of Beijing

Police in China have begun testing Google-Glass-like smart glasses, linked to back-end servers that can identify people and car registration plates.

The development is part of a renewed surveillance push that coincides with a decision to remove presidential term limits, enabling President Xi Jinping to effectively become president for life. 

Law enforcement officials in China have begun testing AI-enabled glasses from Beijing-based company LLVision. They can be connected to systems capable of facial recognition recognise people's faces and run them against a database of suspects.

The news comes as Chinese politicians are due to meet in Beijing to discuss the country's investment in security technology. It is already widely believed that China is emerging as a surveillance state.

Speaking to Reuters, China Media Project co-director David Bandurski said Chinese leaders "once felt a degree of trepidation over the advancement of the internet and communication technologies".

But as China's communist elite continues to hold on to more power, there has been more unrest in the country. And now the leadership "sees them as absolutely indispensable tools of social and political control".

Recently, President Xi Jinping and his government have continued to invest in technologies such as artificial intelligence, facial recognition and big data, partly to keep tabs on citizens and to keep a lid on potential dissent.

However, it is not just Chinese citizens who face this level of surveillance - politicians are also feeling the pressure from technology. 

Anyone visiting the Great Hall of People, where the Chinese parliament is situated, are exposed to facial-recognition sensors. 

According to the Science and Technology Daily newspaper, the official newspaper of the Ministry of Science and Technology in China, officials have invested in new cameras that can capture and compare faces against a database of blacklisted individuals within two seconds.

The report said: "This year, security at the two sessions has some freshly-baked ‘black tech' coming online. The plot of sci-fi film ‘Minority Report' is now basically becoming a part of daily life."

Wu Fei, CEO of LLVision, urged people not to be alarmed by these plans and said the cameras have been implemented for  "noble causes".

He told Reuters: "We trust the government."

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