This week saw the introduction of Facial Recognition sunglasses in china, which allow police officers to more easily identify potential criminal suspects. Chinese state media heralded the introduction of the technology this week, with reports saying seven criminals, including some accused of human trafficking, are already behind bars. So far the technology has only been tested at a Zhengzhou train station, so the future of arrests is unlimited, while privacy is lost.

China tests facial recognition sunglasses at Zhengzhou station

Police officers carry a handheld database, which almost instantly connects matches of images seen by the new facial recognition glasses to suspects sought by police.

The People’s Republic has already pioneered the deployment of hundreds of millions of CCTV surveillance cameras which are already equipped with facial recognition technology for their more than one billion citizens.

The view of surveillance cameras is limited, due to their static installation. However, the new facial recognition sunglasses are considered to be a more useful technology, aimed at catching suspects in busy locations where normally they would have time to merge with the crowd and disappear before officers could arrest them.

The new technology was tested at a Zhengzhou train station where officers successfully made seven arrests. These included a variety of crimes from human trafficking to hit-and-run incidents.

The New York Post reports that 26 people were also caught carrying fake IDs.

Critics concerned about far-reaching use

However, despite the useful launch of the sunglasses, critics are worried the new facial recognition technology could be used for other purposes, such as profiling minorities or tracking down political dissidents.

William Nee, a researcher with Amnesty International, spoke to the Wall Street Journal, saying the new technology could lead to China’s surveillance state being even more ubiquitous.

China aiming for 400 million more surveillance cameras

There are reportedly around 170 million surveillance cameras installed across China, many with the facial recognition technology installed.

The Post reports that China often boasts that they are building the world’s largest surveillance camera network, with 400 million more cameras to be installed by 2020.

As noted by the Wall Street Journal, hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens are starting to travel to celebrate the Lunar New Year holiday in that country, making it an ideal time to launch and test the controversial technology.

China is not alone, however, with facial recognition technology. The United Kingdom has been testing vehicle-mounted technology, where it has been trialed at street parades and sporting events.Recent advances have also made the technology more cheaply available, where it has been utilized in devices including the iPhone X. Author George Orwell is probably turning in his grave right now.