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Police in China enable “alarms” in CCTV to track protesters

New privacy concerns.

Police in can track protesters by enabling “alarms” on surveillance software provided by camera manufacturer Hikvision.

According to technical documents on Hikvision’s website, flagged by Internet Protocol Video Market (IPVM), the software has alarms for protests as well as other disruptive events like “fire hazards” and offenses like “gambling.” Until IPVM flagged the documents, there were alarms for “religion” and the banned spiritual movement “Falun Gong.”

According to the report, the documents show that there are at least nine protest-related “alarm” types: “gathering crowds to attack state organs,” “gathering crowds to disrupt the order of the unit,” “gathering crowds to disrupt order in public places,” “gathering crowds to disrupt traffic order,” “gathering crowds to disrupt order on public transport,” “gathering crowds obstructing the normal running of vehicles,” “crowd looting,” “unlawful assembly, procession, demonstration” and a “threat to petition.”

A police officer on duty can report such incidents as “503” events (a code used for protests), which would then trigger an alarm in the system for the rest of the department, according to IPVM.

The revelations come barely a month after massive protests across China against the country’s restrictive zero-Covid policies.

Infringing on the freedoms of assembly and protests is not the only issue here. The document also shows the massive amount of data on individuals that Hikvision allows its silence to collect. Personal data like religion, ethnicity, political status, and physical description can be collected.

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