The Chinese government has begun to collect biometrics identification from individuals across the country to help establish a voice biometric database. While some citizens are in favor of this, others are not so keen on the idea.
The government in China is collaborating with a Chinese company known as iFlytek, which produces up to 80% of the speech recognition technology that is based in the country. The hopes are that they will be able to automatically identify targeted individuals through the use of surveillance cameras, just by listening to their voice.
Sophie Richardson, the Director of affairs on the matter from the Human Rights Watch, recently stated that “the Chinese government has been collecting the voice patterns of tens of thousands of people with little transparency about the program or laws regulating who can be targeted or how that information is going to be used. Authorities can easily misuse that data in a country with a long history of unchecked surveillance and retaliation against critics.”
The Chinese government has been the leader around the world in establishing the use of biometrics and continues to lead by example. The country has constructed a large-scale biometric database that will likely work in tandem with the massive surveillance system to help control the population. By the year 2015, the Chinese government had already collected upwards of 70,000 voice patterns to help identify individuals.
Many are viewing what the Chinese government is doing as a breach of privacy. While the people do not have to consent to this, it is happening on a regular basis. It is very difficult for individuals to remove their data from the database, and unlike other forms of biometric data collection like DNA, it is non-invasive. Hopefully the government will take into account the need for privacy as time goes on.