China Gathers ‘Voiceprints’ for New Identification Technology, Raising Privacy Concerns

By Sunny Chao

China has developed a new voice recognition system, connecting speakers’ voice features to their identification information for the purpose of building a database of “voiceprints.”

The system will be used for authentication of people’s identities on the internet, as well as in the areas of medical treatment, education, financial services, transportation, and tourism, according to the Chinese regime’s state-run news agency Xinhua.

The report said the system is already in use in Gui’an New District, Guizhou Province. The Guizhou authorities collaborated with a research institute within Tsinghua University and the Beijing-based tech firm d-Ear Technologies to build the cloud technology.

Voice recognition works by analyzing characteristics in the speaker’s voice to identify the speaker. Chinese authorities have said the technology is useful for authentication when people’s internet identities are stolen or private information is exposed. According to Xinhua, the technology is more user-friendly than other biometrics technology and acts like a password that one does not need to memorize.

However, some are worried this technology will become another method for the Chinese regime to surveil and monitor the public.

“The Chinese Communist Party has spared no efforts in using advanced scientific and technological means to monitor the people,” said Mao Xiaoming, a rights activist and former television editor in Shaanxi Province. “Whatever new methods are developed, they don’t hesitate to make great effort, invest large sums of money, or even set up specialized agencies [for using new technologies].”

China’s Great Firewall is a prime example. As early as 1998, the Chinese communist regime had developed technology and created whole agencies, such as the Cyberspace Administration, to monitor and censor content on the Chinese internet. According to estimates by Heng He, a commentator on Chinese politics, the Chinese regime so far has spent at least 100 billion yuan and possibly up to 600 billion yuan (approximately $15.9 billion to $95.5 billion) on maintaining such censorship.

The Chinese regime uses a variety of means to monitor citizens. In addition to voice recognition, there are facial and pupil recognition, fingerprint scans, and DNA samples—forming the world’s largest DNA database.

The facial recognition technology that the regime says will bring convenience to the people is also used to surveil them. Dissident Li Xuewen was arrested last year by two plainclothes police as he was leaving the Guangzhou railway station, thanks to security cameras that employed facial recognition technology.

Yang Zhengwei, a human rights activist in Guizhou Province, is concerned the technology can be used to monitor dissidents, petitioners, activists, and religious groups. “Personal safety will not be protected. It would be very easy to expose one’s identity,” he said.

China-based cognitive scientist Wayne Yang told The Epoch Times in October 2017: “It means, if there is monitoring equipment set up, people will not dare to talk casually in certain places. If someone says some sensitive keywords, it can allow the authorities to quickly capture the person and know his identity. Then people’s private space will be greatly reduced.”

From The Epoch Times

 

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