China’s surveillance networks are believed to be some of the largest and most ambitious in the world — in just a decade, the country has gone from having virtually no surveillance cameras to some 20 million, according to NPR.
The Chinese government claims that the cameras can combat crime and maintain “social stability,” but there is a serious concern within the country that maybe things have gone too far.
For an illuminating (and perhaps worrying) example of the country’s surveillance camera madness, check out the photograph below. It’s one of many photographs of a junction in Shanghai’s Baoshan District that spread on social media recently (you can see more photographs on NetEase):
According to Hug China, that bar you can see was home to some 60 cameras at one point, though after pictures of the bizarre cluster of cameras began to go viral the local government removed them.
Reports in the Chinese press claimed they were put there by a local electronics company for testing purposes, but Chinese netizens were still worried — “From every angle, no blind side, it is capable of distinguish male from female mosquito!” one NetEase commenter wrote.
There may be a small glimmer of hope for Chinese citizens concerned about their privacy, however — a recent report in the South China Morning Post found that China’s notorious smog problem has rendered much of the country’s expensive surveillance system “useless.”
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