BBC News, equipped with cameras, went inside one of China’s village reeducation camps — and emerged not just with footage that would make a freedom-loving American gasp and gag, but also with prescient proof of why runaway Big Tech is bad for the Constitution.
It’s called jail first, ask questions later. And in China’s ever-growing surveillance society, it’s becoming the norm.
America, in heavy competition with China on the technology and artificial intelligence circuits, could take a memo. Should take a memo.
On the video, posted on Hot Air, Zhang Zhisheng, Xinjiang foreign affairs officer, said this: “Some people, before they commit murder, already show they’re capable of killing. Should we wait for them to commit the crime? Or should we prevent it from happening?”
Also on the video, Xu Guixiang, Xinjiang propaganda department, said this: “”Our focus is to take a person who’s on the edge of committing a crime, a minor criminal, and return them to normal society as a law-abiding citizen.”
Because in China, these viewpoints lead to arrest, detention, incarceration and indoctrination. All before a crime’s even been committed.
And the way China goes about determining if a member of society is “on the edge of committing a crime,” at least in part, is via its Big Brother technology that watches and listens and analyzes the citizenry everywhere they go — every corner, every nook, every cranny of the country’s they travel.
We’re talking millions upon millions of cameras placed in strategic locations throughout the entire country. And the government expects to have about 626 million of them in working order by 2020.
“Welcome to the Surveillance State: China’s A.I. Cameras See All See All,” HuffPost reported in December, 2017.
Indeed. The country’s facial recognition capabilities are impressive; the BBC sent a journalist to one area in China a couple years back, to see how long he could remain anonymous — and in all of seven minutes, system surveillance red-flagged him as “suspect.”
Police in America would be so blessed — right?
But therein lies the warning.
No doubt, law enforcement in the United States would like to have the same type of advanced facial recognition technology as China’s. And you know, there’s nothing inherently nefarious about this desire — police, after all, are in the business of arresting criminals and surveillance technology, tracking technology, facial recognition and DNA technology are all valid crime-fighting tools.
But in America, unlike in China, there are privacy and constitutional concerns.
And in America, we must always heed the call of the Constitution above and beyond the desires of the police — no matter how nobly the desires are framed.
No matter how tempting to stop a criminal before the crime is even committed.
No matter how certain police are they can prevent a crime from taking place if only they could bypass that silly warrant requirement — if only they weren’t bogged down and dogged by needless laws and civil rights’ requirements.
No matter what: We must always hearken to the principle that individual rights, in this country, different from China, come from God, not government — and it’s that very principle that means government is restrained in what it can do for “the good of the people,” for “the good of society at large,” for “the good of the children.”
America is America and China is China. That has made all the difference.
The price for failing to recognize this is, for America, utter internal destruction. The price for failing to anticipate the unintended consequences of Big Technology is, for America, complete constitutional chaos.
In America, it’s innocent until proven guilty. It’s not presumed guilty until proven innocent by secret surveillance, indoctrination and reeducation.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ckchumley.