You Can Map Our Faces, but You Can’t Steal Our Souls

In December of last year, the New York Times ran an article chronicling yet another authoritarian abuse of technology to oppress a minority people group in China. At times, it feels like the Chinese regime relishes these types of revelations because it gives them more reason to flaunt their power over the weak and remind the world of how they define morality and liberty down. Nearly every story of human rights abuses contains comments from a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) member spouting off the fact China cares for its citizens in ways nations like the United States can only dream.

This time is no different as they justify the coercive methods to collect DNA samples—often without basic consent or knowledge—from people groups like the Uighur Muslims, who are being detained in the Xinjiang region in western China. These free health checks are said to be another way the government cares for its citizens, but recent revelations like this New York Times story show that health checks are nothing more than a convenient cover-up of these travesties against other human beings. These perverse collection methods are then used to create facial maps for facial recognition systems. This sounds sort of sci-fi creepy, and it is.

The deployment of facial recognition systems has caused many municipalities around the United States and other nations to take a hard look at the ethics of this technology, with some governments banning their use entirely. This is because while these facial recognition systems have evident benefits like public safety and the possible reduction of crime, they also invade basic levels of privacy and intrude on many personal liberties that we enjoy in the West. They take away any shred of dignity as people are tracked as mere pawns in the Chinese scheme to dominate the world’s stage.