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Unis developing surveillance technology for China

China’s influence in Australia is spreading. Photo: ANU

An investigation has uncovered extensive collaborations between Australian universities and Chinese entities involved in Beijing’s increasing surveillance apparatus across the world.

The University of Technology Sydney, Curtin University and University of New South Wales have been named in an explosive report on the development of technologies used for human rights abuses in China.

AUSTRALIAN UNIS INVOLVED

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is conducting an internal review into its $10 million partnership with CETC, a Chinese state-owned military tech company that developed an app that Chinese security forces use to track and detain citizens in Xinjiang.

In 2017, UTS signed the lucrative deal with CETC to establish a new research centre, which included projects in artificial intelligence and surveillance.

That same year, the Communist Party began a new incarceration campaign, rounding up, detaining and forcibly indoctrinating ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

Furthermore, a major player that has secured a foothold in Australia is Global Tone Communication (GTCOM), a worldwide data-mining company that is majority owned by the Chinese Government.

UTS and Curtin University in Western Australia have been named in an explosive report over the development of sophisticated mass surveillance technologies across the region.

According to the report, GTCOM has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) to test its technology.

GTCOM has boasted of being able to mine data in 65 languages at a rate of 16,000 words per second from websites and social media, and spruiked its connections with multiple Australian universities.

Senior Australian security officials have told Four Corners the company’s activities are evidence that Beijing is running an espionage operation through technology companies — including the recruitment of university employees to help develop national monitoring systems.

These statements correlate with the story of Heng Tao Shen, who became one of the University of Queensland’s (UQ) youngest-ever professors at age 34.

Three years later, he was recruited through the Chinese government’s Thousand Talents Plan to work at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China (UESTC).

There, he became head of its School of Computer Science and Engineering and was given a laboratory and research team to lead. He founded Koala AI a year later, in 2015, which has been instrumental in assisting the Chinese government to achieve their plans. 

Chinese influence inside of universities is not a new revelation, however, this investigation reveals a much deeper picture between the country’s dystopian surveillance grid and the role Australia plays.

ESPIONAGE PROGRAM BY CHINA?

Not only are Australian universities helping to develop highly advanced systems used to suppress and monitor the lives of millions, but the underpinning technologies have already reached our shores.

In Australia, ‘open-street’ or ‘town centre’ CCTV cameras employ visual surveillance systems established by local government authorities, in cooperation with police, to monitor public spaces such as malls and major town squares.

It has been revealed that Hikvision and Dahua, the largest and the second-largest video surveillance companies in the world, are responsible for many of the cameras installed across the country.

Reports show both companies are in use at every level of government, from some of the most sensitive federal government agencies, all the way down to suburban councils.

For example, the town of Murgon in QLD, recently unveiled a 54-camera, 17-site wifi Hikvision CCTV system which is now used by Murgon Police to watch over parts of the town’s CBD.

Documents have also revealed expensive contracts for the “supply of video cameras and accessories” between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Central Security Distribution, one of the largest distributors of technology made by both companies in Australia.

Furthermore, cameras developed by both companies have been found at the Department of Home Affairs, Attorney-General’s office, AUSTRAC, the Office of National Assessments, major train stations and riddled through local government facilities.

Interestingly, Hikvision grew out of a China’s military surveillance wing and the Chinese government still retains a 42 per cent stake in the company.

CETHIK is the Chinese government division created expressly to manage Hikvision, and the Chinese government has controlled Hikvision since they created it in 2001.

Recently, Hikvision and Dahua were banned from US government use via an amendment to a defence spending bill, after concerns of illegal monitoring.

Furthermore, more than two years have passed since Hong Kong company Guardforce Group was allowed to complete its $158 million takeover of Securecorp, Australia’s largest security firm.

There are worries that Securecorp’s Chinese owners might exploit operational powers in Australia, which includes 96 CCTV cameras in Melbourne’s CBD and security operations from everything to Westfield shopping centres, Glencore mines and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Just how vast is China’s influence really in relation to surveillance technology in Australia?

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SOCIAL CREDIT SYSTEM

The biometric systems being introduced bare a striking resemblance to ‘Social Credit’ initiatives in China, and we have expressed predictions that a similar system will soon reach Australia.

In China, a national ‘reputation system’ has been developed by the government to standardise the assessment of citizen and business economic and ‘social reputation’, based on points or ‘credit’.

Underpinning the agenda, points are lost and gained based on ‘behaviour readings’ from a sophisticated network of 200 million facial recognition surveillance cameras across the country.

Many of these technologies have been developed by Australian universities themselves.

As the coming biometric dystopia begins to encompass everything from trains to airports, smart cities to 5G and IoT, how can we trust that these elements won’t do the same here?

Who is watching those responsible for developing these systems?

Listen to Ethan Nash from TOTT News on a recent episode of Ramola D Reports to learn more: 

Could Australia be incrementally setting up a blueprint for a similar system here in the future?


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RELATED CONTENT

Are Australian universities putting our national security at risk by working with China? | ABC News

Australian universities collaborated with surveillance app and racial profiling tech developers linked to China’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang | Business Insider

How China’s smart-city tech focuses on its own citizens | Financial Times

Are Chinese tech companies spying on Australia? | TOTT News

China’s ‘Social Credit System’ will reach Australia | TOTT News



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