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Leaders In Developing Countries Using Street Cameras To Monitor Opponents’ Movements

[PHOTO/ COURTESY]

The street camera you face every day in the city could not be for the good of the ordinary citizen, but to protect power, it has emerged.

According to reports by the New York Times, a part from footages from the cameras going to security personnel, they also are relayed to leaders of most African countries.

The publication reports that over 18 countries, mostly in Africa including Kenya, have imported the cameras from China.

“Today, 18 countries — including Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Kenya, the United Arab Emirates and Germany — are using Chinese-made intelligent monitoring systems, and 36 have received training in topics like “public opinion guidance,” which is typically a euphemism for censorship, according to an October report from Freedom House, a pro-democracy research group,” reports New York Times.

It is alleged that African governments are seeking to even control the masses through technology, which they are heavily investing in.

For countries that cannot afford the technology, China is readily providing loans to enable them acquire the technology, from Chinese technological firms.

The situation is so dire that some countries employ upto thousands of people to push the stree cameras agenda forward.

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For instance, Ecuador has a total of 4,300 cameras across the country,16 monitoring centers and more than 3,000 people employees to monitor them.

“They’re selling this as the future of governance; the future will be all about controlling the masses through technology,” Adrian Shahbaz, research director at Freedom House, said of China’s new tech exports.

However, one of the companies supplying the technology, Huawei, denies the presence of ill-motives in supplying the cameras to other countries.

“Huawei provides technology to support smart city and safe city programs across the world. In each case, Huawei does not get involved in setting public policy in terms of how that technology is used,” says Huawei.

Most of these cameras were secured to get rid of insecurity concerns in the streets, but seem to have achieved very little, if none. An example is in Kenya where people are mugged and killed in front of the cameras, but culprits are never arrested.

In China, there are tens of millions of cameras, and billions of records of travel, internet use and business activities, to keep tabs on citizens. The national watch list of would-be criminals and potential political agitators includes 20 million to 30 million people.

Most victims of political oppression in the developing world have found themselves in hot soup, after being traced using footages of such cameras, NYT reports.

Cameras are even planted in strategic places, to monitor people on the watch list, and if possible near their homes.

To people who “matter less” no cameras are installed, like in the case of slum areas.

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Francis Muli

Written by Francis Muli

Senior reporter at Kahawa Tungu, Muli has a passion for human interest stories. He believes in unearthing societal rots that have been hidden from the public eye. He has also carved himself a niche in writing business stories. He has worked for various organisations including Kenya Television Service, Business Today among others. Follow him on Twitter @FmuliKE.

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