Chinese cities roll out gait-recognition technology, alarming human rights campaigners

Surveillance technology claimed to recognise walkers from a silhouette with 94% accuracy

Facial-recognition technology has been a feature of Chinese cities for some time, but authorities now have a new tool in their arsenal: gait-recognition.

The technology the work of Chinese firm Watrix claims to be able to identify people from up to 50 metres away, by examining the way they move. It works whether or not the subject has their back turned at the time or not, and even with silhouettes.

Thus far, the technology has been used in Beijing and Shanghai to spot jaywalkers, as well as in conjunction with other methods to track down suspects.

China has already pushed ahead with using facial recognition as a key part of law enforcement, but many fear the worst for a country that has a concerningly poor record of both defending human rights and tolerating dissent.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

"It would have been good to hear countries speak out about the tools like digital surveillance used to restrict human rights," Frances Eve, a researcher for the Network of Human Rights Defenders told The Telegraph.

Beyond concerns about misuse, the technology also raises questions about citizen privacy. "States have an obligation to provide their citizens with public security, but not at the expense of fundamental human rights," Sophie Richardson, the China director at Human Rights Watch, told the paper.  

"Much of this technology gathers information about people without their knowledge and consent. They have no way of knowing until it's somehow being used against them. There is no effective way of pushing back against that."

Of course, compared to facial-recognition software, gait recognition has a serious disadvantage: while changing your facial appearance is a potentially costly and risky undertaking, adjusting the way you walk is reversible, and can be done in an instant without involving anyone else. Whether the technology would pick up on somebody adjusting the way they move to trick the system is something that will likely be put to the test if the technology becomes more widespread across the country.

zhaoyan / Shutterstock.com

Featured Resources

What you need to know about migrating to SAP S/4HANA

Factors to assess how and when to begin migration

Download now

Your enterprise cloud solutions guide

Infrastructure designed to meet your company's IT needs for next-generation cloud applications

Download now

Testing for compliance just became easier

How you can use technology to ensure compliance in your organisation

Download now

Best practices for implementing security awareness training

How to develop a security awareness programme that will actually change behaviour

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/policy-legislation/data-governance/354496/brexit-security-talks-under-threat-after-uk-accused-of
data governance

Brexit security talks under threat after UK accused of illegally copying Schengen data

10 Jan 2020
Visit/microsoft-windows/32066/what-to-do-if-youre-still-running-windows-7
Microsoft Windows

What to do if you're still running Windows 7

14 Jan 2020
Visit/hardware/laptops/354533/dell-xps-13-new-9300-hands-on-review-chasing-perfection
Laptops

Dell XPS 13 (New 9300) hands-on review: Chasing perfection

14 Jan 2020
Visit/operating-systems/25802/17-windows-10-problems-and-how-to-fix-them
operating systems

17 Windows 10 problems - and how to fix them

13 Jan 2020