These standards allow police to search video surveillance footage and mugshot/suspect databases via various 'personal attributes', including skin color. The standards are widely mandated by recent Chinese police security camera projects.
The standards also include "ethnicity" tracking, without naming any specific ethnicity. However, evidence found by IPVM indicates "ethnicity" tracking targets Uyghurs and Tibetans specifically.
In this report, IPVM investigates these standards and what they show about PRC police practices.
The Chinese government issues detailed standards across all sectors of government, including for the police's vast security camera networks. Police standards are issued by the Ministry of Public Security but each standard is written by a different mix of government research institutes, police departments, and surveillance companies. While the standards are officially "recommended", as noted by a supplier of the standards, "'Recommended' is not voluntary, it should be treated as 'mandatory'".
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GA/T1400.3—2017 is a national standard for "public security video image information application systems" which includes "skin color" and ethnicity detection as "personal attributes" that police can search databases for ("Ethic" is a misspelling for Ethnic):
This 2017 standard has been mandated in many PRC police video surveillance RFPs:
Companies which wrote the standard include Uniview, Hikvision, Dahua, Netposa:
Drafting organizations of this section: Science and Technology Information Technology Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, Zhejiang Public Security Institute of Science and Technology, Zhejiang Uniview Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Liyuan Communication Technology Co., Ltd., the First Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Security, and National Security Alarm System Product Quality Supervision Inspection Center (Beijing), Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Jieshang Vision Technology Co., Ltd., NetPosa Technology Co., Ltd. [emphasis added]
GA/T 1756-2020 is a national standard for "person image/face recognition applications in video surveillance for public security." The standard includes "skin color analysis" as part of "face attributes":
The specific skin colors are "white, black, yellow, brown, other":
This standard was drafted by the Science and Technology Information Bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, the National Engineering Laboratory for Intelligent Analysis and Sharing of Video and Image Information, Beijing Zhongdun Security Technology Development Company, the First Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Security, Shanxi Provincial Public Security Department, Tsinghua University , National Security and Alarm System Product Quality Supervision and Inspection Center (Beijing), Science and Technology Information Division of Yunnan Public Security Department, Lianyungang Public Security Bureau, Jiangsu Province, Suzhou Keda Technology Co., Ltd. [Kedacom], Beijing Shenxing Technology Co., Ltd., Chongqing Zhongkeyun From Technology Co., Ltd. Shanghai Yitu Network Technology Co., Ltd. [emphasis added]
DB41/T 1514—2017 is a provincial standard for Henan police detailing "technical specifications for security system in residential districts" which tracks skin color and ethnicity ('ethic code'):
DB41/T 1514—2017 mandates that residential communities have security cameras "clearly recording facial features of people entering and exiting" buildings:
6.4.1 [cameras are installed at] entrances and exits of residential buildings, as well as the entrances and exits of shops and clubs in the community [...] should clearly record the facial features of the people entering and exiting and stored in the system in image format
Hikvision and Dahua are listed as co-drafters of this standard:
Drafting organizations of this standard: Zhengzhou Municipal Public Security Bureau, China Academy of Space Technology, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., Ltd., Henan Huaan Baoquan Intelligent Development Co., Ltd., China Unicom System Integration Co., Ltd. Henan Branch The company, Suzhou Keda Technology Co., Ltd. [Kedacom], Zhengzhou Lanshi Technology Co., Ltd. Zhengzhou BlueEye Tech Technology Co., Ltd. [emphasis added]
DB4403/T 43—2020 is a local standard for Shenzhen police for security camera networks in 'Smart Parks' (industrial areas) and includes skin color and ethnicity tracking as part of "face information data for video surveillance":
Hikvision, Uniview, and ZKTeco are some of the firms listed as drafters of this standard:
Drafting organizations of this standard: Police Security Department of Shenzhen Municipal Public Security Bureau, Anda Technology (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Uniview Technology Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Bosi High-Tech Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Jieshun Technology Industrial Co., Ltd., Guangdong Aike Zhibo Technology Co., Ltd., ZKTeco TechnologyCo., Ltd., Shenzhen Saifim Technology Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Zhongyan Anchuang Technology Development Co., Ltd., Shenzhen Ai Li'an Security Equipment Co., Ltd. Shenzhen Alean Security Equipment Co., Ltd [emphasis added]
DB65/T 4176.2-2018is a provincial standard for Xinjiang police for "technical database requirements" for "video and image" systems. The standard does not include skin tone but does include "EthicReliability", a statistical confidence score estimating whether someone belong to an (unnamed) ethnic group on a 0-100 scale. The higher the number, the more likely that person belongs to this ethnic group, the standard explains:
Chinese Face Rec Firm Says 'Ethnicity' Means Uyghurs, Tibetans
The police standards above only mention "ethnicity" in the context of China's 56 official ethnic groups. Uyghurs are not explicitly mentioned by these standards, despite the fact that Chinese police often integrate Uyghur-detecting AI software in their security camera networks.
However, a Chinese facial recognition company, Bresee, which is owned by Uniview's parent company TransInfo, uploaded an explainer to its website that "EthicCode" is meant for tracking Uyghurs and Tibetans ('Zang' people in Chinese) specifically:
This indicates that "EthicCode", while officially meant to identify any ethnic group, may in practice target Uyghurs along with another repressed minority (Tibetans). As IPVM previously reported, the Ministry of Public Security issued a draft facial recognition standard in December 2017 which explicitly included Uyghur recognition; IPVM could not locate a final version of this standard.
Alibaba Cloud SDK Includes Skin Color, Ethnicity
On Github, Alibaba Cloud's official SDK team uploaded code that includes Skin Color and Ethnic Code:
The Github page includes no details about why this was uploaded. Alibaba didn't respond to IPVM's comment request.
Hikvision, Dahua Response
Hikvision declined to comment to IPVM. Dahua, Uniview, ZKTeco, Bresee, Kedacom, Yitu, NetPosa, and Alibaba did not respond to our requests for comment. If any do, IPVM will update this article.
Dahua told Reuters that the race/ethnicity tracking was "false" and that "Dahua was not involved in creating the database section of the document that mentions ethnic groups". Meanwhile, Hikvision told Reuters that it is "committed to upholding the highest standards and respect for human rights" and "As a manufacturer that does not oversee the operation of our products, we do ensure our cameras are designed to protect communities and property".
ACLU: "Enormous Uproar" Had US Government Done Similar
Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst at the ACLU, told IPVM that video surveillance standards with skin color and ethnicity tracking would trigger 'enormous uproar' had it been the US government behind them, citing China's standards as a cautionary tale for the West:
If the government here in the United States was discovered mandating the tracking of skin color and ethnicity, there would be an enormous uproar. Yet it does fit with surveillance patterns we’ve seen before here, such as in the banking and travel sectors, where the government requires companies to collect information about customers on its behalf. As security cameras continue to proliferate and video analytics gets better, it’s not a huge leap to imagine authorities pressuring private camera operators to collect and store identifying details in the same way, just in case it’s needed. We should never let that happen.
China Companies Complicit In Racist Practices
IPVM previously reported that Dahua Offers "Race Recognition", but the above shows that this is far from unique; clearly, many Chinese video surveillance companies are directly involved in helping PRC police standardize racist practices.
China is the only country to have explicitly codified race-tracking in their police video surveillance standards, according to IPVM reviews of publicly-available standards. While such analytics would spark an outcry elsewhere, it is unfortunately not surprising that PRC police deploy them, given their ubiquitous Uyghur tracking.
Dahua was not involved in creating the database section of the document that mentions ethnic groups
So Dahua admits it co-authored the standard, just that they were not involved with the 'database section' which is the heart of the entire standard. That's what these standards are doing, defining what needs to be tracked, i.e., the 'database'.
That would be a neat experiment. I'm also a bit curious just how good the analytic works; hopefully better than some other analytics we've been sold on and also especially if people's freedoms and lives depend on it operating properly...
"So Dahua and Hikvision can no longer be SIA members, right?"
Well, let's not be unreasonable here; maybe they've paid their dues to be part of the club, maybe even a little side action(some may say; who really knows?). SIA, like the United Nations, is an interesting organization; but.........
"What do you mean we're unethical? We used the word ethic 9 times in that document!"
You've never worked with "offshore support"? (Maybe you're offshore from the US and take the literal meaning. Many of us deal with it everyday and I have my "super-decoder-ring" to help me- although even that doesn't work everytime). That darn "n" always getting in the way.... :)
Speaking for myself, I guess I get enough politics everywhere else. For example, the awards shows (Grammy awards, Emmy awards and others) have turned into a political event and because of it, their ratings are down. People get bombarded with everything from technology to movies becoming vehicles for expression of political ideas and virtue signalling. It's your playform so obvioulsy you do what you do. It just seemed like the story was more about something most of us already know...the Chinese government is deeply connectly with their technology companies and use this control to spy and control. Thanks for your perspective John.
have turned into a political event and because of it, their ratings are down
That is certainly a risk! I do think these things are important and unlike the Oacars, we are doing fundamental investigative work to uncover these things.
It just seemed like the story was more about something most of us already know...
I agree with you that many already know it but many don’t accept it so it is important to keep finding and providing evidence such that the case is clear and excuses from the manufacturers are shown to be just that.
Many just don't care about what's happening there; especially when so much is happening here (in the US) with nothing to little being done about it. Many have no problem with the databasing analytics based on ethnicity. The analytic, itself is not bad; how some use it is bad. It's already being done on other platforms; just not openly or they haven't been outted yet or it's "ok" on those other platforms, maybe because how they use the data isn't considered bad(yet). Focus on those that are actually misusing tech maybe here, in your own backyard. Maybe a few articles on what's happening in the southwest of the US. There must be some tech misuse happening there. It would be interesting to see the ethnicity analytics technology used here, in the clear. Pandora's box is open, good luck controlling it now. We're getting what we(well, what some) asked for(and more) - go tech!. Let's experiment with this feature and a few others; wait china is, but their not the only ones experimenting....
Maybe a few articles on what's happening in the southwest of the US. There must be some tech misuse happening there
We’d love to break a story on that but is there any evidence to that end? One of the benefits about having free press is that even if some people in America thought about having “Mexican” video analytics, the obvious and rightful backlash would be severe. Again happy to report and if anyone has tips for the “southwest” please share. The reality is that all signs point to China’s abuse of surveillance tech to be far worse than the USA or EU.
Once again, not necessarily fact, but your opinion, although presented to be perceived as fact. It may not be reality at all.
You troll each of these posts, yet you don’t actually produce any evidence yourself. I welcome you to produce such evidence proving that the USA or EU is worse than the PRC when it comes to video surveillance.
If you feel so strongly that there is other evidence out there, go and prove it, post it and make us look bad. Or stop trolling.
I simply find it odd that you find so much evidence as relates to this particular topic. I don't need to produce evidence as my statements are my opinions. It is not my intention to make you look bad; you can do that on your own if you like...Now I'm a troller. If you don't agree with or value my opinions, you are free to breeze right on past them. Others have similar opinions to mine. We are independent thinkers. Here come the cancel culture again..
There are many reasonable and critical thinkers on this platform and we all have opinions based on our experiences, knowledge, training and multiple objective (and some not so objective but we sift through it) information sources. The other platforms you mentioned (Grammy's, oscar's, mtv, xet, msnbc, cnn,..ok I added a few on..) are more in the "sheep steering" business. John and the others at ipvm feel this is important and as long as we all understand what is important to each of us; no problem, they can go on and on about it until the cows come home. You may want to practice filtering out what is unimportant to you ( yes I also have to better practice it myself....but I digress) and find the articles here you deem worthy of your time(our precious time....). Some days it's fun commenting; others not so much(a therapy of sorts). On the days I get too angry about how my membership funds are used, but don't feel like commenting, I'll read another, more useful article here or elsewhere. These folks do nice work but just get a bit of tunnel vision with certain topics at times.
Thanks for the feedback - I do have a few counterpoints.
Hikua is doing what every vendor would do to get inside a huge client.
No, Hikua is co-writing widely-used police standards which include Skin Color and ethnicity tracking. It's not quite the same as a vendor offering something to get a big contract.
hikua are Chinese companies selling to the chinese government, for them it's not a problem.
Of course it's not a problem for them. The point of this article is to bring up the ethical implications of such activities. Are you saying that because it's happening in China, it's not newsworthy? By that standard the media should never cover human rights violations in China because "for them it's not a problem".
if you don't like it, buy Korean, Taiwanese, Swedish, many options out there...
Yes that is true, however, Hikvision/Dahua/Uniview (and Chinese companies generally) command a big portion of the global video surveillance market, which is one reason we cover stories like this.