Man Arrested In Crowd Of 50,000 People Using Creepy, But Cutting Edge, Technology

Singer Jacky Cheung, who the fugitive drove 50 miles to watch in concert. Weibo 

James Felton 13 Apr 2018, 17:31

A man wanted for "economic crimes" has been arrested after being picked out by police in a crowd of 50,000 people. 

The man, identified as "Ao", was caught by the police during a Jacky Cheung gig in Nanchang in the Jiangxi province of China, the South China Morning Post reports. He told authorities he thought he was "safe" to attend the concert with his wife, due to the sheer numbers of other concert-goers making him near-impossible to spot. He said he would never have driven 80 kilometers (50 miles) to attend the gig if he didn't think he was completely safe.

However the 31-year-old was spotted using cutting-edge facial recognition technology that managed to single him out from the crowd. He was arrested shortly after being spotted.

Ao's face was one of many stored in a controversial system used by police in China.

“Ao was suspected to be involved in an economic crime and was listed on a national online system,” police officer Li Jin told the South China Morning Post. “He was very shocked and had a blank face when we caught him.”

This isn't the first time the technology has successfully been used. Last year, 25 individuals wanted for a number of crimes were caught at a beer festival in Qingdao, The Guardian reports. Like in Ao's case, the cameras were installed in the entrances and used to spot wanted suspects as they entered the event.

China is embracing facial recognition technology more than other countries, who are perhaps held back more by privacy concerns. Business Insider reports that police in Beijing have begun testing glasses fitted with facial recognition technology that can identify people and number plates within milliseconds. 

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The glasses are linked to the same central database containing information on suspects, giving police information on personal information including the age, name, address, and criminal record of suspects. Police say they had arrested seven people suspected of kidnapping and a hit-and-run case using the tech within a week of the launch of the trial. A further 27 were arrested for using fraudulent identity cards.

In a slightly less "potentially dystopian" use of the technology, Lanzhou Zhongchuan International Airport is using facial recognition instead of passports and tickets. Using the tech, passengers are briefly scanned to confirm their identity and ticket, allowing them to board without documents.

 

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