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January 31, 2008

Surveillance Tech: US-Made [2:27 pm]

And, of course, field-tested here: Keeping an Eye on China’s Security

[W]ith China now becoming wealthier and its citizens more mobile, the government is now embracing the extensive use of street-by-street surveillance technology — and the United States government is becoming less sure that American companies should be playing a central role in the effort.

The Commerce Department is drafting new rules on what security equipment American companies can sell to China. The move comes in response to rapid advances in surveillance technology and the increasing involvement of American companies in the Chinese market as the Olympics approach.

People involved with the process said the Commerce Department was singling out biometric technology — face-recognition software, in particular — which Chinese security agencies could use to identify political and religious dissidents.

[...] American companies heavily promote their equipment as being the most advanced on the market, in part because much of it was developed to fight the threat of terrorist attacks in the United States. Current American regulations allow the export of most surveillance equipment if regulators believe it could be used in a factory or office complex and is not intended exclusively for police work.

In addition to multinationals that export surveillance equipment from the United States, there are other security companies that are incorporated in the United States — and are mainly bankrolled by American hedge funds — but with virtually all of their employees in China.

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