Can you imagine what John Lennon would have thought about a museum in his Liverpool home-town installing facial recognition technology to invade the privacy of visitors, in an act of big-brother surveillance? Maybe his son can write a song about that? Yet for sure that’s what has happened according to a report by the UK campaigners Big Brother Watch, and what lies behind the decision is a cause for real concern to anyone valuing human rights and the intrusion of the state upon civil and personal liberties.
The World Museum has admitted that such technology was operated, and in a curious twist stated that the decision to extract the bio-metric data of its visitors was taken during an exhibition on China’s ‘terracotta warriors’.
It seems the move was suggested by the local cops! Now what on this good earth would they be so concerned about? Details are scarce, a tight lid has been closed which makes us wonder what was going down behind the scenes. What facts are known show that several Chinese government and academic institutions were closely involved with facilitating the exhibition. That it was taking placed in England, for the first time outside off of London suggests that UK authorities such as the Foreign Office would have a key role.
While in the background would be lurking security agencies like MI5. Such monitoring and involvement would have the goal of ensuring matters proceeded without incident or controversy. After all like China’s ‘Panda Diplomacy’ these artifacts are used by the Chinese regime as soft propaganda, exhorting the cultural marvels of an ancient past, for very present political purposes.
Given the appeasement which runs through UK policy towards China there would have been an acute sensitivity surrounding the exhibition, the question is who requested that face-scanners be part of security measures? From what we know Britain has some legal restrictions and protocols on the deployment and operation of such technology, on what basis then did the cops press the museum to employ such an intrusion of personal privacy?
Did they have confirmed intelligence of a planned protest or criminal action? If so surely an increased police presence would have been an appropriate measure? Was this the result of a confidential accord reached between the UK and Chinese government? Meanwhile we should of course give thought to the use of the bio-metric data which was taken from all those who visited this exhibition. Who had responsibility for it? Was it shared with any other agencies, including the Chinese authorities? Just where is that digital record now?
Whatever dirty politics or anxiety saturated diplomacy may be behind this gross violation of citizens right to privacy, one fact remains the Chinese regime and its technological attack dog, Huwawei have implemented the world’s most oppressive facial-recognition systems against the people of China and indeed in occupied lands such as Tibet and East Turkistan.
That a supposed liberal democracy like the UK has authorized such surveillance against its own people, in probable collaboration with and appeasement of China’s totalitarian regime is a deeply disturbing development. One that should be thoroughly exposed and challenged!
Across the water in a land where its government is often heard to boast of traditions of democracy and human-rights something is very rotten.
This week a Minister of the UK authorities, Gavin Williamson, wassummararilly dismissed from his post by Theresa May, the reason you may wonder?Well, there had been a leak of information to the media from a security star chamber called the National Security Council (NSC). This gathering is attended by Ministers, heads of MI6,GCHQ,MI5 and counter-terrorism police, they are all bound by what’s termed the Official Secrets Act. Which is effectively a state gagging order, violation of which is punishable as a crime.
A rapidly assembled inquiry was launched and within a couple of days the Prime Minister had laidresponsibility for the disclosure at the door of Mr Williamson. He had it was claimedbreached the security protocols and convention of supreme confidentiality under which the NSCoperates. What’s more there wastalk of him being open to prosecution. As it stands hecontinuesto vigorously denysuchcharges and has called for an inquiry into the affair.
What would be revealed if such an investigation was allowed to delve into events which lead to the release of press reports that Theresa May was considering allowing controversial Chinese communications and tech corporation Huawei a contract in constructing a 5G network within the UK?
In all probabilitysuch an examination is not likely as there may well be too many politically sensitive skeletons rattling around, which could prove damagingly embarrassing to the Prime Minister’s government and her Conservative Party. There’s already an indication that the matter is being slammed down with yesterday’s announcement by the Metropolitan Police thatthe disclosure did not constitute a criminal offence, Nor it was claimeddid the informationreleasedbreach the Official Secrets Act.
“I am satisfied that what was disclosed did not contain information that would breach the Official Secrets Act,”said Neil Basu, head of the Met’s specialist operations. “I have considered all the information available to me andI have takenlegal advice.I am satisfied that the disclosure did not amount to a criminal offence either under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) or misconduct in a public office. No crime has been committed and this is not a matter for the police.”(Source: The Guardian 5/4/2019)
This statementraises an interesting possible legal defense for future whistle-blowers who couldargue that it‘s not the action itself which defines if the OSA has been breached but the nature of information. From the government‘s perspective it does something more important, eliminates the risk of exposure within a court, it also returns complete control to them. Who can now bury this controversy deeply away from what could be dangerous further scrutiny. Before exploring further some interesting connections between the UK government, former Ministers and officials with Huawei let‘s change the focus.
While the UK government struggles to justify it’s reported approval of allowingHuawei to engineer the 5G network across Britain, or reassure its allies that any potential security risk can be contained the Chinese corporation is a key facilitator in the oppression of the Tibetan people. Not that the political establishment in London extends any substantial concern towards the plight of Tibet, especially when engaged in lucrative commercial partnerships with Chinese corporations!
Yet if they bothered to carefully assess the role of Huawei in occupied Tibet they would soon realize that its insistence on being an independent business, not influenced or constrained by China’s regimeis palpable nonsense. Like all major corporations within China Huawei is deeply and actively enmeshed with the political machinery of the Chinese state, without the sanction of the authorities it would not exist. It cannot operate without the approval of Xi Jinping and his regime. We are not though talking of a well intentioned company that happens to be under the control of China’s totalitarian tyranny, Huaweiis an engaged player, fully subscribed to the extreme politicalideology which aims to expand Chinese political, military and national interests.
This is shown by its suffocating presence in Tibet where it has been constructing a range of communication and security networks, the purpose of which is to monitor Tibetans, intruding into every aspect of their daily living.Establishing an extensive CCTV coverage, creating facial recognition systems and security barriers at Tibetan monasteries and other public locations.Working in collusion with other Chinese communication providers it has engineered a surveillance network which monitors social-media and telephone systems to identity any dissent against China’s regime.
In this regardit is partnering in the repressive assault against Tibetan cultural and national identity, a collaboration which should be of serious concern to governments, including of that of the United Kingdom, which claim to place the highest value upon human rights and freedoms. Yet it‘sinterest is directed towards strengtheningties with Huawei, even to the extent of jeopardizing security alliances with the USA and other countries.
The prospect of trade and the significant profits which flow from collaborating with the Chinese technology giant are presented as being in the interest of the nation, enablingeconomic and performance benefits fron the latest network platform. Such claims, of course, are open to debate and should be measured against handing over control of communications infrastructure to an arm of the Chinese state.
While the advantages of 5G are promoted as offering a digital revolution such technology also affords a totalitarian state disturbing levels of increased social control and surveillance. That is already happening within China, facilitated by Huawei, while there are now three 5G base-stations operating inside occupied Tibet. One, at the LhasaPost and Telecommunications School, the other two are installed at the office of the TibetPost Group in Lhasa, and in China Mobile’s Tibet branch building.
It‘s said that power corrupts, in realityitprobably reveals an inherent capacity for venality, is such self-interest at the heart of this controversy? Have prominent figures linked to the UK Government and Conservative Party profited from Huawei? Was it coincidental that fairly senior people associated with former Prime Minister David Cameron’s administration were offered and accepted prominent executive positions onto the board of HuaweiUK? Clearly finance has dominated the scene since Huawei promised in 2012 that it would be investing £1.3 billion in the British economy.!
Whatever the facts, which look set to be confined indefinitely to the archives, in defending its partnership with Huawei and risking the integrity of its communications network and national security the UK authorities are collaborating with a corporation which is enabling the violent oppression and 24/7 surveillance of the Tibetan people!