Developments in hardware, software, AI, and networking in China have allowed the country to make huge leaps in security. As AI and networking allow the systems to become smarter and connected to more databases, they are increasingly proactive and effective. Many of these advances have come with little fanfare at home, but others have caught public attention, stirring an outcry over the invasion of privacy in public spaces.

China’s surveillance networks are growing faster than anywhere else in the world, and so here we look back on a year when China pushed ahead with watching itself.

2017 was the year facial recognition became mainstream in China. While it may not be in everyday use by many just yet, improving accuracy (and Chinese technology groups continue to win international facial recognition competitions) has allowed the concept to be deployed in more locations. Beyond using one’s face for paying in shops and checking into hotels, the technology is being put to use to pick wanted people out of crowds. As well as finding those already suspected of committing a crime, uses of facial recognition to identify people doing things such as jaywalking are a way for authorities to influence behavior

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Frank Hersey

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...