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How many CCTV cameras are in China?

China ranks as the country with the highest number of surveillance systems in the world, at an estimate of 200 million cameras.

Such a figure amounts to approximately 1 camera for every 7 people. The cameras use artificial intelligence and facial recognition to capture information about citizens. A single image will predict your age, ethnicity as well as your gender.

Risks related to CCTV cameras

There are certain risks associated with the huge number of cameras in China, such as the violation of privacy. Each camera shot generates an activity profile for a given citizen, going as far as retracing one’s actions within a week. The camera systems also go as far as linking citizens to their family members, resulting in a complete intrusion into one’s life.

Ownership of the cameras

The CCTV cameras are both publicly and privately owned. The publicly owned cameras belong to the Chinese government, which is of the view that the cameras help prevent and predict criminal acts. Private surveillance, on the other hand, is from corporate institutions that keep watch over their employees. Even with widespread surveillance in the country, plans are still underway to install millions more cameras in an attempt to maintain safety.

Reasons for the massive number of CCTV cameras

China has had a technology boom in the last ten years, with investors aiming for a high-tech future. This has resulted in a large market for security technology; hence, the large number of CCTV cameras. The government and private investors regularly provide easy access to money for startups building these cameras in exchange for surveillance data.

The increase of cameras, however, leads one to question whether the motive is purely to promote a safe society or to create an authoritarian society. Whichever the case, the public needs to have a say on the use of CCTV cameras.

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