Beijing to pinpoint and track citizens via cellphone

March 3, 2011Jing GaoOne Comment, , , , , , , ,

Beijing is setting up “Real Time Map of Beijing Citizen Locations”, a system based on data collected from China Mobile’s 17 million cell phone users in the city. The map will show distribution of the population within a certain area and time slot. The first phase project will be focused on Huilongguan and Tiantongyuan, two areas with mass population.

The system is said to be used for “relieving traffic congestion” and “improve efficiency in outdoor activities,” said Li Guoguang, deputy director of Society Development office of Beijing’s Science & Technology Committee.

“Besides serving traffic control, the system is also helpful for ‘managing population,’” Li said, “For example, the number of people in a certain area at a certain time, the information obtained from cellphone positioning is more comprehensive.” Li Guoguang also said that while data is being processed, privacy protection will be strictly enforced.

Beijing Morning Post

Jing: Despite the comforting words from the official, the news has rattled most Chinese people. A commenter wrote, “It is no longer a hand set. It is a hand grenade.” Another wrote, “I miss those days when we had to communicate by yelling from a distance.”

Beijing has already had one of world’s most sophisticated high-tech surveillance systems. Even before the 2008 summer Olympics, Beijing’s government had spider-webbed the city with 300,000 cameras. Since the end of 2009, all internet cafes in Beijing have been under the scrutiny of the police. By 2010, over 80 percent of Beijing’s neighborhoods have been covered by surveillance cameras.

Until the announcement of the cellphone positioning infrastructure, residents in Beijing might thought they could at least be off the radar if they stayed home and avoided going onto the streets or into a public area. Not any more. Now they officially have no place to hide. Not only can the behemoth effort nail them down on the map, it can follow their footprints.

The project can also be easily exploited for commercial use. What you are, what places have you been to… Transmission of such personal information to outside companies is lucrative for the mobile carrier. Even the cellphone number itself tells a tale. Various number sections were released over time due to the growing Chinese cellphone market demand, therefore, a cellphone number indicates time frame of its acquirement, and hence, the user’s buying power: the older the number, the better off the user, as cellphone was still a luxury until five years ago.

Source: QQ; ZOL; Los Angeles Times

Netizens comments on CNBlogs:

Gross:

Privacy of Chinese!

卡斯地方了卡塞蒂飞:

A concrete manifestation of stability maintenance expenditure exceeding military spending.

bigbluefox:

That was how Dudayev died! (Jing: Dudayev, first Chechen president, was killed in April 1996 by two laser-guided missiles when he was using a satellite phone, after his location was detected by a Russian reconnaissance aircraft, which intercepted his phone call.)

天行健 自强不息:

Too scary.

vieri122:

Objection!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jimXX:

I suggested that Beijing hand out a dog chain to each citizen and tie it around the neck, so that more accurate data can be obtained.

ouzi:

Alas, these well-fed people have nothing else to do and just come up with shit.

包容性增长:

A weasel giving new year’s greetings to a hen has ulterior motives. We all know what they are up to.

中华奋起:

He-he! Let’s see where you can flee?

12309c:

Now they see every bush and tree as an enemy.

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1 comment to “Beijing to pinpoint and track citizens via cellphone”

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