The obsessive drift of espionage that China is having in recent years is giving much to talk about. Numerous headlines go out daily talking about the surveillance methods the country is implementing and that directly attack the privacy and freedom of its inhabitants. Now, the smallest students are the new victims of this lack of privacy.
China has once again surprised the world with the so-called “smart suits” specialized for Chinese students. More than 10 schools in the southwest province of Guizhou and in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are already implementing this type of suits from the Guanyu Technology company, to “improve class attendance and safety”. These suits will monitor the entry and exit of these children in addition to other data.
These “smart uniforms” have 2 sensors that are responsible for tracking when a student is entering or leaving school grounds, and automatically sends that information to both parents and teachers. Of course, if the child runs away from school or skips school, parents and teachers will know thanks to an automatic alarm.
Facial recognition technology is added in these suits. Let’s take an example; a child wants to mislead the suit and wants to change it to another so that one can leave while the suit “believes” that you are in class. It can not; The suits are linked to the student by facial recognition and in case of mismatch an automated alarm will also be launched.
But these suits can not be unwashed forever, so it is more than reasonable to think that in case of cleaning they will break. None of that: these suits can survive 500 wash cycles and temperatures above 150 degrees Celsius, plus they are useful for shopping, going out on the street, and so on. They are designed to be used as much as possible.
According to the school’s director, Lin Zongwu, the attendance rate has improved since the technology went into service quietly in 2016, but it also does not allow the slightest deviation in behavior. Concerning the concern that the center’s workers tracked the children, Lin says he has not noticed anything. The main problem, beyond privacy, is that any politician or official of these institutions could track the behavior of these children. There is no need to think long to imagine the risk this implies.
Is this a dystopia come true?