A new video from the New York Times outlines not only the scale but sinister evolution of state-sponsored data collection.

We know that the the Chinese government has been zealously building a massive database of faces to help keep track of its citizens. These images are then used to enforce their laws. The extent of this automated enforcement leads to cases of mistaken identity such as this 2018 story about a business executive that had her face flashed on screens across the city shaming her for jaywalking. Turns out her face was scanned off an advertisement on the side of a passing bus.

This video from the New York Times outlines not only the scale but evolution of this state-sponsored data collection.

Facial images in one province is three times larger than the DHS database

Mass surveillance by the state has now evolved beyond just facial recognition but now is tied into mobile phone tracking (i.e. which phones in the area have a Uyghur <> Chinese dictionary app installed) as well as activity on email, phone calls, and social media.

Connecting digital life and physical location

Where this video surprised me is the scale of biometric data that is now being collected. Iris scans, DNA samples, all of these markers are unique and cannot be altered like a phone number or social media handle. Even more sinister, there is a specific focus on male DNA which is passed on to offspring so the “genetric tracking” continues across generations.

Iris and DNA samples

The video is part of a package of material NYT released in what looks to be an on-going investigation and coverage that can be found at: