A bill tabled in Hong Kong, allowing extraditions to China has seen about 1 million people total turn out in protests across the city. To reduce the ability of facial recognition software from identifying the protesters, they have employed the use of lasers pointed directly at the camera lenses. The intention is to confuse the facial recognition technology so that it can’t match faces to its database of names.
The lasers are a form of high-tech protest against the Chinese regime that has embraced the use of technology to enforce its authoritarian system. Hong Kong hasn’t yet signed the bill into law, but protesters are fighting against the adoption. The tabled bill will allow China to extradite suspected criminals, regardless of whether a formal extradition treaty is in place. The potential legal connotation raises serious concerns for residents, as some see it as an extension of Chinese influence within the city.
Lasers Find New Use
Initially, the protesters used lasers to distract and annoy police officers involved in the control of the crowds on the street. After it was discovered that the surveillance tech was available to authorities, protesters started affixing the lasers to their heads. Front-line protesters already take precautions against being recognized by covering their faces and sometimes even the brand logos of their shoes.
Police have also employed the laser technique to moderate success but on the other side of the spectrum. In recent clashes, news cameras were the victims of police-operated laser systems, obscuring the facts and making it difficult for the press to report on the activities. The political upheaval within the city is not helped by the methodology employed by the authorities to seemingly curtail press freedom. The continued civil disobedience comes amidst growing concern that China’s influence within the city-state has become overbearing. Political clashes will continue until the local authority decides what action it will take regarding the bill, which is currently tabled as a result of the extreme confrontations between police and civilians.