Australia is launching its version of China’s high-tech population monitoring system. Darwin’s citizens will soon have their smart-phones under surveillance and their activities monitored.
According to NT News, officials of the Darwin council traveled to Shenzhen and had a chance to see how their Smart Technology works before being fully rolled out. The new monitoring programs are based in China, where the government is currently testing its Social Credit System.
The city of Darwin already prepared poles fitted with speakers, cameras, and Wi-Fi reported NT News. The monitoring will be done mostly with AI on people, their movements, the websites they visit and the apps they use; it will alert authorities basing on preset triggers.
With a totally similar “marketing” strategy, the Australian surveillance system will be presented as a totally innocuous “smart city” program. However, the government has already announced that it will be monitoring smart-phone activities, and create “virtual fences” that will trigger alerts when crossed.
NT News reports the words of Josh Sattler, Darwin council’s general manager for innovation, growth, and development: “We’ll be getting sent an alarm saying, ‘There’s a person in this area that you’ve put a virtual fence around.’ … Boom, an alert goes out to whatever authority, whether it’s us or police to say ‘look at camera five”.
The purpose of the “virtual fences” and the criteria that will be used when setting the triggers has not been made clear.
According to Sattler, the surveillance system is benign. It will tell the government “where people are using Wi-Fi, what they’re using Wi-Fi for, are they watching YouTube, etc. All these bits of information we can share with businesses. … We can let businesses know, ‘Hey, 80 percent of people actually use Instagram within this area of the city, between these hours”.
But in China, the Social Credit System is monitoring each person and every element of their lives: friends, purchasing habits, behavior, as well as other information. It then assigns a score that determines what level of freedom they are enjoying in society.
With this tool, China is able to monitor and persecute dissidents, religious people and whoever opposes the ruling system.
Now China is exporting its system and its “China model of government, as a service of its “One Belt, One Road” program. When infrastructures are built, the surveillance and social control programs come as part of the deal.