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Use of high-tech in security necessary

Author:gzstcj  From:CHINA DAILY Time:2019-03-02 Browse:  Size: Big Middle Small

Editor's Note: Some Western media recently criticized the Chinese government for the use of facial recognition technology and big data in the public security field. How should we treat this allegation? How can citizens' personal information be better protected? Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Liu Jianna. Excerpts follow:

Strengthen legal system to protect personal data

According to the nonprofit organization GDI Foundation, SenseNets, a Chinese company in Shenzhen that focuses on facial recognition technology has exposed the personal information, including the ID card numbers, addresses and location in the preceding 24 hours of 2.5 million people, who are supposedly mostly Uygurs in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

It is unfair and arbitrary to heap criticism on the Chinese government and assume that it is conducting targeted surveillance on Uygurs with limited information at hand.

In this age of information and high mobility, traditional security methods and techniques should be updated to accord with the new security situation. Well employed and regulated, technology, including facial recognition and big data can play an important role in safeguarding public security. For instance, using facial recognition, police in Guiyang, Guizhou province, have traced and arrested many criminal suspects greatly improving the sense of security of local residents in the province.

China has employed high-tech in policing only to improve public security, just like the other police forces, such as that in the UK which are using facial recognition. As it significantly improves the efficiency of public management, the use of high-tech in policing is expected to be more widely adopted by countries in the future. The key of the matter is to prevent any abuse of data by means of detailed laws and strict law enforcement.

Use personal data correctly for security

In the field of personal data protection, the US introduced its so-called Patriot Act after the Sept 11 attacks in 2001. It enables the government to collect information on US citizens and foreign nationals who are suspected of crimes. Even the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union allows personal data to be processed if there is a legal basis to do so.

Just like the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chinese intelligence departments and law enforcement agencies have databases, which are a significant tool in their efforts to safeguard public security and combat terrorist crimes. Neither the Chinese government, nor Chinese enterprises, have processed or accessed the databases in question for commercial use. The data that SenseNets collected and exposed supposedly due to technical failures or negligence may have been used to facilitate public administration.

In order to protect personal data and prevent any data abuses, China should formulate its own law on personal data protection, or optimize data protection rules.

China's personal data protection practice should stick to the following principles. First, personal privacy should not be infringed upon and any random collection of personal data by any organization is forbidden. Second, personal data that law enforcement agencies access should only be used for social management, not commercial use. Third, e-commerce enterprises should ask for consumers' consent if they should build a database and collect consumers' commercial data. Without permission from the customers, their commercial data should never be added to the database and listed as the company's own property.

The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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