Shutterstock (2)In a country of nearly 1.4 billion people, you’d expect it’d be pretty easy to stay under the radar. But the illusion of anonymity may as well cease to exist; China has built its self-proclaimed “world’s biggest camera surveillance system.”
The 170 million CCTV cameras use artificial intelligence and facial recognition technologies to get an inside look at everything about its citizens. A single image is all it takes to identify someone’s face and their estimate age, gender, and ethnicity. But the intrusive nature of this technology doesn’t stop there; the surveillance system can even connect you to your family members. One factory in Hangzhou, China, has sold nearly one million facial recognition cameras, which match every face with an ID card and can retrace that person’s steps back as far as a week.
One BBC reporter volunteered to be a human guinea pig to observe just how accurate and efficient the surveillance system really was. His photo was added to a database of Chinese residents in Guiyang and flagged as a “suspect” to keep on the lookout for. It only took the CCTV cameras seven minutes to identify his image and alert the Chinese authorities of his whereabouts.
Chinese officials hope this expansive network of cameras will help prevent and predict future crimes. In three years, an additional 400 million cameras will be installed across China.
But China isn’t the only country keeping a watchful eye over its citizens. A whopping 30 million surveillance cameras are currently installed across the country in the United States, mcclatchydc.com reports. Across the pond, an estimated six million cameras are watching the United Kingdom, according to a 2013 study conducted by the British Security Industry Association. “I believe the figure may now be much higher than this estimate,” wrote Tony Porter, the U.K.’s surveillance camera commissioner, in a recent report, “given the proliferation of cameras being adopted by such a wide range of organizations and the increasingly intrusive nature of new and emerging technologies.”
Turns out Prince Harry and Meghan Markle aren’t the only ones being watched at all times—you are, too. These are all the surprising places you didn’t know had hidden cameras.