China: Tracking mobile users’ movement

According to Beijing Morning Post on March 2 2011, China Mobile Beijing would turn 17 million mobile phone into monitoring devices. The monitoring system could detect the population flow 24 hour a day.

The city science committee social development department deputy head Li GuoGuang said that they had already submitted the funding proposal and the testing districts are Hui Longguang (回龍觀)and Tian Tongyuan (天通苑), both are located at the northern part of the Beijing city. The testing period will be six months and if successful, the project would be extended to other parts of the city.

The pretext for building the system is to monitor the traffic, however, Li GuoGuang also admitted that the system also helps to manage the population, in particular in tracking mass demonstration incident. The government will know approximately how many people are gathered in the same district at the same time. He also claimed that the system would not violate individual privacy.

Many believe that the system is to nip the “Jasmine Revolution” in the bud. Indeed, public discussion on this monitoring system has been banned, leaving no space for public to oppose the project. In portal websites like Netease, the article had been removed and in other cases, the comment section closed.

In Sina Weibo, people are aware of the monitoring effect of such system. Some of them start reminding their friends not to bring their mobile phone when they go out for meeting.

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