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China deploys big data analysis to enable ‘predictive policing’

Human Rights Watch reports:

Chinese authorities are building and deploying a predictive policing program based on big data analysis in Xinjiang, Human Rights Watch said today. The program aggregates data about people – often without their knowledge – and flags those it deems potentially threatening to officials.

According to interviewees, some of those targeted are detained and sent to extralegal “political education centers” where they are held indefinitely without charge or trial, and can be subject to abuse.

“For the first time, we are able to demonstrate that the Chinese government’s use of big data and predictive policing not only blatantly violates privacy rights, but also enables officials to arbitrarily detain people,” said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “People in Xinjiang can’t resist or challenge the increasingly intrusive scrutiny of their daily lives because most don’t even know about this ‘black box’ program or how it works.”

Human Rights Watch said Xinjiang authorities in recent years have increased mass surveillance measures across the region, augmenting existing tactics with the latest technologies. Since around April 2016, Human Rights Watch estimates, Xinjiang authorities have sent tens of thousands of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities to “political education centers.” [Continue reading…]

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