The Jury Talks Back


Hong Kong Protesters Topple “Smart” Lamppost In Fear Of Facial Recognition Software

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dana @ 12:11 pm

[guest post by Dana]

In spite of the Hong Kong government claiming that “smart” lampposts only collect data on weather and traffic, protesters in Hong Kong were so worried about Bejing being able to surveil them through cameras on the post, the protesters took it down altogether:

Protesters used an electric saw to slice through the bottom of the lamppost, while others pulled ropes tied around it.

The demonstrators, who were holding up umbrellas to hide their identities, cheered as it toppled over.

They were part of a larger group marching to demand the removal of the lampposts over worries they could contain high-tech cameras and facial recognition software used for surveillance by Chinese authorities.

There are currently 40 of these smart lampposts in Hong Kong. Soon, however, they will become a familiar part of the cityscape:

The semiautonomous Chinese city has said it plans to install about 400 of the smart lampposts in four urban districts, starting with 50 in the Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay districts that were the scene of Saturday’s protest march.

Given what we know about Bejing, it would seem that organizer Ventus Lau is absolutely right:

“Hong Kong people’s private information is already being extradited to China.

“We have to be very concerned.”

In an interesting contrast to protester’s worries about the smart lampposts in Hong Kong, the EU is aiming to upgrade 10 million aging lampposts into smart lampposts:

There are as many as 90 million lampposts in Europe, according to the EU and three quarters of them are over 25 years old. Street lighting accounts for up to half of some cities’ energy budgets and simply installing energy-saving bulbs would save almost €2 billion ($2.3 billion) a year.

Under the slogan “a dozen things you can do with a humble lamppost that has nothing to do with light” the EU wants to upgrade 10 million lampposts, making them solar-powered smart lampposts able to deliver a range of smart city services.

As well as providing bases for a city-wide network of 5G connected sensors to monitor vehicle and pedestrian traffic flows, the now far-from-humble smart lampposts could host a free public WiFi network.

The EU says smart lampposts will improve citizen safety by delivering public information through digital displays and speakers as well as measuring air quality and monitoring streets for flooding.

Their sensors will have multiple uses from helping visually impaired people to navigate the city to alerting drivers to vacant parking spaces.

City authorities will be able to offset the cost of smart lampposts by using them to host digital advertising or provide charging points for electric vehicles.

On a side note: CCTV is already popular in parts of Europe. England alone has an estimated 500,000 CCTV cameras around London.


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