I just finished watching a video documentary on how China fought coronavirus. China won over coronavirus with Data, collected over years through massive state surveillance of citizens. Yes, the greatest weakness of China, from the perspectives of practicing democracy, seems to have become the best tool in its arsenal against the virus. Russia is executing the same playbook. Taiwan has also done well. These nations are united by one thing: state surveillance of citizens!
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not sure there is any country in Western Europe, Africa or North America that can execute the fight against coronavirus with the bravado which China has demonstrated. Simply, none has the tools, and because of that, none can connect the dots.
From the video, here are some notes:
- At the discovery of the virus, China activated all its surveillance cameras in public places, collecting faces of its citizens, at scale.
- China linked the national health database with the travel database, connecting those who travelled to some areas to their medical facilities.
- China then processed the data with AI, linked with WeChat and its telecommunication infrastructure, and sent citizens alerts with three color-codes: green, red and yellow. With Green, you can move around. With Yellow, you cannot drive and must keep limited contacts in the public. At Red, you must self-quarantine. That data is shared with clinics/police which can then quickly follow up.
- If you are on Red and are required to self-isolate and you do not comply, using facial recognition cameras, the government will know of the violation. This self-isolation is necessary even if you do not have symptoms. Fines and jail times await.
- Using the public cameras, China was processing where people were in real-time. Once someone has tested positive, the AI system, using the cameras will alert all the people the subject came into contact with instructions on what to do.
- Data was helping clinics, police and other stakeholders to make informed decisions in near-real time.
Post covid-19, lawyers will revisit the debate on privacy across nations.
Unfortunately, I cannot share the video.