Database Entry: This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like

This Is What A 21st-Century Police State Really Looks Like

October 17, 2017
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Armed police, paramilitary forces, and volunteer brigades stand on every street in Kashgar, stopping pedestrians at random to check their identifications, and sometimes their cell phones, for banned apps like WhatsApp as well as VPNs and messages with religious or political content.

Other equipment, like high-resolution cameras and facial recognition technology, is ubiquitous.

When I walked into a checkpoint a few miles east of Kashgar, a police officer stood near the entrance to check commuters’ cell phones for banned apps and messages (as a foreigner I was sent to a separate line and not asked for my phone). Their faces were then scanned by a facial recognition camera and matched with their identification cards. Glossy white machines for full-body scans stood on the other side of the room.

Petrol stations have a similar setup. At a station I visited in Kashgar in September, visitors were stepping out of their cars to have their faces scanned and matched with identity cards before filling up. As a foreigner, I was only asked for my passport.

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