China Is Developing Minority Report-Like Technoloy To Target Future Alleged Terrorists

If you're passionate about the topics of privacy, government surveillance, and security and also how they relate to the FBI and DOJ's fight to unlock that fateful San Bernardino iPhone, the whole situation likely pales in comparison to what communist countries like China force their citizens to tolerate. In an effort to root out threats to society, the Chinese Communist Party has contracted for development of a data analytics technology of sorts that is best described as taking a page straight out of the 2002 movie staring Tom Cruise called Minority Report.

Minority Report Like Interface Kinect
Credit: Flickr Tadokoro
As Bloomberg reports, a top Chinese contractor by the name of China Electronics Technology Group is developing a big data analytics platform specifically to target alleged would-be terrorists before they strike. Wu Manqing, the chief engineer for the military contractor noted at a recent conference that, “it’s very crucial to examine the cause after an act of terror, but what is more important is to predict the upcoming activities.” As such, and with little resistance from civil liberties organization or the general population, the company is developing technology that will analyze data mined on the country's citizens and then provide predictive identification, complete with drawings of alleged terrorists and criminals, to catch them before crimes are committed. And how the country mines data for this platform might make your freedom-loving skin crawl. 

Recent anti-terrorism laws that were passed in China this year essentially give the government unbridled access to citizen bank accounts, phone communications and even a national network of surveillance cameras affectionately called "Skynet." Couple that information with citizen data on things like work, hobbies, consumption patterns and a secret file the country keeps on almost everyone called a "dang'an," and the government has a veritable big data resource of the population's every move and tendencies. The dang'an file allegedly keeps records on education, health, work permits, and personality assessments. Further, the government also disclosed last year that it was building a national database to score citizens on "trustworthiness."

A China Electronics executive speaking in anonymity noted that initially the program would only "target terrorist in a specific northwest region of the country" but it's not hard to see the program being expanding to a larger percentage of the population as the government experiments with the virtually limitless potential its has to collect data on its citizens. The complete lack of privacy protections in China make it easy to pull together lots of very specific data on a massive scope of the population.

If any country in the world can build a proverbial Minority Report system, it's the Chinese. They have the technology and the resources but more importantly, they have control of the population such that limitless data mining and spying on its citizens is deemed lawful in the name of national security.