So Japan is rolling out fingerprint identification technology for everyday purchases:
12:00 am, April 09, 2016
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Starting this summer, the government will test a system in which foreign tourists will be able to verify their identities and buy things at stores using only their fingerprints.
The government hopes to increase the number of foreign tourists by using the system to prevent crime and relieve users from the necessity of carrying cash or credit cards. It aims to realize the system by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The experiment will have inbound tourists register their fingerprints and other data, such as credit card information, at airports and elsewhere.
Tourists would then be able to conduct tax exemption procedures and make purchases after verifying their identities by placing two fingers on special devices installed at stores.
The Inns and Hotels Law requires foreign tourists to show their passports when they check into ryokan inns or hotels.
The government plans to substitute fingerprint authentication for that requirement.
A total of 300 souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and other establishments will participate in the experiment. They are located in areas that are popular among foreign tourists such as Hakone, Kamakura, Yugawara in Kanagawa Prefecture, and Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture.
The government plans to gradually expand the experiment by next spring, to cover areas including tourist sites in the Tohoku region and urban districts in Nagoya.
It hopes to realize the system throughout the country, including Tokyo, by 2020.
Introducing the system is part of the government’s efforts to increase the annual number of foreign tourists to 40 million by 2020.
It is also aiming to demonstrate the country’s advanced technology by having tourists use the system when they visit Japan for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics.
Data concerning how and where foreign tourists use the system will be managed by a consultative body led by the government, after the data is converted to anonymous big data.
After analyzing tourists’ movements and their spending habits, the data is expected to be utilized to devise policies on tourism and management strategies for the tourism industry.
However, there are concerns that tourists will be uneasy about providing personal information such as fingerprints.
The experiment will examine issues including how to protect one’s privacy and information management.
Attempts to put similar systems into practical use are under way at a bank and a theme park in Japan.
In October last year, the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, introduced on a trial basis a similar system in which visitors can make payments with just their fingerprints at about 30 stores and restaurants.
An official from the theme park said, “The system has been well received by customers, including those with children, since it saves them the trouble of taking their wallets out.”
By the end of this month at the earliest, Tokyo-based Aeon Bank will become the first bank in Japan to test a system in which customers will be able to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines using only fingerprints for identification and omitting the use of cash cards.
“The system is also superior in the area of security, such as preventing people from impersonating our customers,” an official from the bank said.
Governments/corporations going to all the effort and cost of research, design, manufacture, advertising, widescale cooperation between companies and services for biometric devices just to save us the time it takes to take out our wallets? (Or remember a password, use an alarm clock etc…) Absolute surveillance is more like it. Ok cash has been in the process of being slowly phased out for ages, and alternate transitional paper currency like stamps (which are no longer currency) and cheques/traveller’s cheques have lost their popularity to plastic and digital currency but now you want the kind of info it’d take to open a bank account or get arrested just for a regular purchase? No thanks. Want DNA samples too? Yeah paper and plastic are not environmentally friendly but neither are computer servers. At least some countries (like Japan) still have some coins with holes in them – you can wear your change as a fashion accessory 😛
I remember when people used to be scared to give out their name, sort codes and account numbers (in the glory days of cheques and that is less info than that on a cheque) without knowing that people couldn’t take money out that way, only add to the account (as long as you didn’t give any other info) – a potential hacker could give them money rather than steal! That said in terms of identity fraud direct debits can be set up with that info but it’d be responsible just to tell people these things when they have an account, why develop and roll out technology like this and then expect to keep all that data safe from themselves and outsiders, especially when it’s going to be accessed commonly/regularly?
This new system reminds of me of China’s social credit system:
It’s happening in the U.S., too.
China has a problem.
No, not Donald Trump trying to savage it any time he comes within three feet of a microphone. It’s that enormous social shifts in recent years—like the forcible relocation of 250 million people from rural areas to urban environments—have transformed the country, in the words of its Academy of Social Sciences, from “a society of acquaintances into a society of strangers.”
And these strangers, it turns out, don’t think much of each other. Social trust is at miserable levels, leading to a shaky business environment in which half of all written contracts are blatantly breached.
Since part of the problem is the lack of a credit reporting system, the government has decided to establish one. But instead of only considering people’s ability to repay loans, this system will rank people based on their trustworthiness using all sorts of data.
This might sound exactly like the kind of thing you’d expect from an authoritarian regime. And as someone who has pondered the ways in which privacy is squeezed by an ever-expanding surveillance state, I was intrigued by this unholy alliance between Big Data and Big Brother.
But what really surprised me was not just the outlandish lengths to which the Chinese government will go to evaluate its citizens. It was that its tactics were surprisingly close to what is already happening here, as banks look for ways to lend money to—and collect fees from—people with no traditional credit history.
But first let’s look at what the Chinese are doing.
The glories of trust-keeping
Using an enormous range of information, from traffic violations to consumer patterns to social networks, China intends to give every one of its 1.3 billion citizens a “social credit” score by 2020.
A recently translated summary of the plan explains that the goal is nothing less than raising “the sincerity and quality of the entire nation.” That, it says, should help address everything from workplace accidents to food safety failures to tax evasion and production of counterfeit goods (putting Canal Street, every New York woman’s go-to source for knockoff Chanel handbags, rather under a cloud).
The plan includes recommendations for establishing “civil servant sincerity dossiers,” something I’d like to see applied to my local DMV, lots of talk about “professional ethics, household virtue and individual morality,” and encouraging companies to conduct “client sincerity evaluations.”
I’m not sure what that means, but it conjures visions of online retailers diligently making entries like, “Disappointing customer. Returned item saying ‘It didn’t fit.’ Strongly suspect she’s lying about being a size 6.”
There’s also a large public relations component, with the use of news media to “forge a public opinion that trust-keeping is glorious” and a raft of proposed holidays, including “Sincere Trading Propaganda Week” and “Quality Month.”
The pains of trust-breaking
Before you start worrying about the caliber of the other 11 months of the year, you’ll be glad to hear that there’s also a strategy for enforcement. This includes informants, blacklists, and the rather chilling promise that “those breaking trust will meet with difficulty at every step.”
Interestingly, the government is letting private companies, like Alibaba ( BABA 1.16% ) , the e-commerce giant that made $1 billion in eight minutes the other day, take the lead in a series of pilot projects.
Alibaba’s finance arm, Sesame Credit, has been issuing customers with social credit scores based in part on their purchases and hobbies.
As Sesame’s technology director explained, someone who played hours of video games “would be considered an idle person,” so less creditworthy, while someone “who frequently buys diapers” is probably a parent, so “more likely to have a sense of responsibility.”
Suddenly that puts Nicolas Cage in Raising Arizona, running from the cops with a stocking mask over his head and a package of Huggies under his arm, in a whole new light.
Rank your friends!
Although it seems that someone’s score, rather shockingly, may rise and fall with the creditworthiness of their friends and relations, companies are focusing consumers on the positive.
Sesame has even launched a mobile phone game in which users can guess whether they have higher or lower scores than their friends. What could be more fun than seeing whether your friends are—literally—worth hanging out with?
This may all seem crazy, in ways both scary and silly. But before we get too smug about how it would be unthinkable here, consider the recent news about credit agencies “exploring new ways of assessing consumers’ ability to handle loans,” right here in the United States.
These include scouring “phone and utility bills, change-of-address records and information drawn from DVD clubs, and suppliers of rent-to-own furniture.” And that’s just the well-known companies like TransUnion and FICO.
Start-up credit agencies and banks, reports The Economist, go even further, “piecing together scores by analyzing applicants’ online social networks,” monitoring their Facebook ( FB 0.23% ) messages and determining whether they are spending prudently.
(Here we pause as I put down my phone, from which I was just about to order a gravy separator from Williams-Sonoma ( WSM -0.02% ), in case I needed to separate gravy sometime. Suddenly, it just didn’t seem—what’s the word?—prudent.)
The credit agencies say that they are responding to a demand by their customers—the banks, which are looking for new sources of revenue and hoping to find it in people who previously had no credit score.
Building a better citizen
So while we’re not subjected to a government effort to “build a better citizen,” as the Chinese are, we’re not doing much to prevent the private sector from conducting not-entirely-dissimilar data-mining investigations into millions of people too young, too poor, or too new to the country to have traditional credit scores.
Ever since Target ( TGT -1.01% ) started using data-mining to predict whether female customers were pregnant (which explains why I received a can of formula, seemingly out of the blue, right before I had my first child), scholars have warned us about the many ways the private sector can use predictive analytics to figure out who we are and what they can sell us.
But even if it’s good business, there’s something odd about collecting all these disparate pieces of information—traffic violations, bills paid and unpaid, staying friends with your ne’er-do-well elementary school classmate, having children, playing Call of Duty: Black Ops III—and assigning the whole mess a single numerical score.
Reducing all aspects of social and consumer life to a single unit of value seems to fundamentally misunderstand the complexity of human experience. Maybe remaining friends with a childhood buddy with a poor loan history does reflect on your own financial creditworthiness. But that friendship might also point to other things about you—your past, your loyalty, or your willingness to help those in need—that cannot be assigned a numeric value along the same spectrum as whether you paid your gas bill.
Maybe an authoritarian single-party state can’t be that concerned with the dignity and autonomy (let alone the privacy) of its citizens. But at least the Chinese plan has been publicly circulated. Its “you will be trustworthy—or else” message might be a little alarming, but it’s not like it keeps you guessing.
We can’t really say the same for our own shadowy system of credit ratings. And if the market requires it, how long will it be before we all get evaluated based on whether our purchases are of the “responsible adult” or “idle slacker” kind?
Better start stocking up on the Huggies.
Caren Morrison is an associate professor of law at Georgia State University. This piece was originally published on The Conversation.
The social credit system fits in with the ‘I have nothing to hide so you can know absolutely everything about me before I even know and may never understand even if it puts you [and me] to sleep’ philosophy of those who accept it and the ‘ha ha you moronic little tiny puny pathetic people-oids, you only exist for me to watch, use and exploit’ philosophy of those who see each other as commodities.
Moving on to traditional spying aka espionage:
China In ‘Dangerous Love’ Foreign Spy Warning
Tuesday, 19th April 2016 10:24
China has launched a campaign to warn people of the dangers of trusting handsome foreigners who might have secret agendas.
Titled Dangerous Love, the posters, issued to mark the first ever National Security Education Day, tell the story of a young Chinese civil servant, called Little Li, who meets a red-headed man at a dinner party.
As “David” woos her with compliments, flowers and romantic walks in the park, Li fails to realise he is a foreign spy.
The cartoons depict a scenario where Li gives David secret internal documents from her government office before they are both arrested.
In the final image, Li is shown sitting handcuffed before two policemen who tell her she has a “shallow understanding of secrecy for a state employee”.
China’s state secrets law is notoriously broad, covering everything from industry data to the exact birth dates of state leaders.
Information can also be labelled a state secret retroactively.
President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping revamp of the security apparatus, aimed at combating threats both at home and abroad.
But new security laws he has passed, or wants to pass, have alarmed Western governments, including the counterterrorism law and a draft cyber security law, amid a renewed crackdown on dissent.
On Tuesday, a Chinese man was sentenced to death for leaking more than 150,000 classified documents to an unidentified foreign power.
The man, a computer technician from Sichuan named as Huang Yu, worked for a government department which handled state secrets, but he was a bad employee and was sacked, a report on state television said.
Filled with anger, he messaged a “foreign spy organisation” on the internet and offered to sell documents he had obtained while working for his former employer, who gladly took him up on his offer.
The report did not say when or if the execution had happened, or where he was tried.
Here are the 16 parts of the comic (making up two side-by-side pages) translated, all images and translations from http://chinalawtranslate.com/nsed/
The comments on that web page highlighted another (historical) poster:
I once saw a travel show documenting the exploration of Chinese culture by a UK celebrity (can’t remember who it was) in which was a segment about Caucasian men who work in China and purposely have Chinese girlfriends making them do humiliating things and ultimately thinking them golddiggers, even if they’ve been together long term. The main guy interviewed was also Red haired (natural Reds/Blondes being both exotic, unique and interesting to Asians, yet natural Reds maligned for quite some time in the West). I’d already learned that having local mistresses was common in many countries from empire/colonial and world war days but at that time I didn’t know it had continued to present day in China for migrant workers and xpats even if on a lesser scale. It added to generally being aware of the East Asian (Chinese sub-continent) female being the ‘no:1 exotic’ and people from some of those countries looking down on dark skin. Ask the US White males and Asian women you know and see how many of the former say they would like an East Asian girlfriend and how many of the Asian (anywhere from Asia) women say that Eastern Asian women are indeed the most desirable for both White and Asian (excluding Brown Muslims but including the Eastern Muslims) men. Whilst White people in the latter half of the 20th century onwards preferred/prefer to tan but there’s been a movement to re-appreciate the fair skinned and White women generally preferring darker men when attracted to the ‘exotic’. Then of course there’s the buy-a-bride trade. That doesn’t mean there aren’t women in the world who are looking for the ridiculous epitome of an ‘attractive man’ via his money, car, looks, flashiness etc and not all of them have sympathetic circumstances.
It’s ironic that governments dislike satire and political artists yet propaganda is the norm and apparently acceptable. Whilst this poster warns its citizens of business/state indiscretions it implies to us foreigners to dress dowdy and understated when visiting, since being good looking means we’re less trustworthy…
Did the world wars (and cold war) ever end? Anyone is capable of spying and gossip, it doesn’t help though when we get posters like the above or like those by the Met Police in 2009 (that for some reason are hard to find online unless hotlinked to their website) which implied people were better off because they reported neighbour’s trash and ‘strange activities’ including someone who was just looking at a CCTV camera. 🙄
People may be be better off looking up gang stalking and through-the-wall devices to be informed about spy/harassment/life invasion methods used to intimidate and control regular and ‘suspect’ people, and how easy it is to end up on a watch list.
Lastly here is an article about the crackdown on rich kids and vulgarity in reality tv:
China Cracks Down on Reality TV Kids, Live-stream Stars
The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT), China’s top state media regulator, has issued new guidelines seeking to ban children from featuring in reality television programming. The new rules pay special attention to the children of established celebrity figures. The New York Times’ Amy Qin reports on the ban as the next step in official efforts to regulate China’s burgeoning online television industry:
The aim of the ban, said the state-run news agency, Xinhua, which first reported the guidelines on Sunday, is to protect the children from the pitfalls of “overnight fame.”
The regulations are the latest in the government’s continuing efforts to rein in the fast-growing online television industry. Last month, new rules issued by two industry associations, including one state-sanctioned organization, outlined a comprehensive policy that included a ban on depictions of gay relationships, underage romance, extramarital affairs, smoking, witchcraft and reincarnation.
[…] Some experts said the latest guidelines appeared to be aimed specifically at hugely popular shows like Hunan Television’s “Where Are We Going, Dad?” and Zhejiang Television’s “Dad Is Back,” both of which feature children of celebrities.
[…] Ma Xue, a Beijing-based reality television producer, said she thought the broadcast regulator issued the new guidelines “because they don’t want people to see differences between classes.”
“On these shows, if you are the child of a celebrity, then you become a celebrity by birth,” she continued.
“This could have a negative social impact,” she added. “You can’t have class differences starting from childhood.” […] [Source]
The posh lifestyles of celebrities have previously been targeted by central propaganda directives, and state media has warned against the “negative impact” that celebrity lifestyle can have on the masses. More from the AP on media regulators’ desire to limit programming that encourages fascination with lavish living:
It said reality show producers had been ordered to drop the “mistaken notion” that they should use well-known entertainers to attract viewers. “Do not permit shows to become venues for displaying fame and wealth,” the order quoted by Xinhua said.
[…] Chinese media regulators want to rein in programmes which they see as overly materialistic or encouraging the worship of celebrities who might compete with role models promoted by the ruling Communist party.
Viewers have increasingly turned to programming on more independent satellite television stations and the internet, where regulators have sought to impose stronger control over live streaming programmes usually featuring young women chatting, playing video games or simply going about their everyday tasks. [Source]
The South China Morning Post’s Ting Yan reports further on the growing popularity of streaming live programs, focusing on Papi Jiang (Papi酱), who has won online celebrity status—and a fat paycheck—through her live streams:
Jiang Yilei, her real name, lived a quiet life at the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing a year ago, but now finds herself the mainland’s second best known web celebrity after Wang Sicong, the flamboyant son of China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin – according to the mainland’s IT industry flagship magazine Internet Weekly.
The arrival of social media in the mainland more than a decade ago and the increasing accessibility of the internet has allowed many ordinary young men and women to gain celebrity to massive audiences with their eye-catching opinions and comments.
Many are followed by millions of fans who are keen to catch whatever they do or say. Web celebrities often appear in newspapers or on television as conventional media has developed a fascination for them as well.
But compared to their counterparts years ago, the current crop of big name cyber celebrities are leveraging their fame to cash in, with the earnings on par with first-tier stars.
[…] Jiang is in such a position. After maintaining a steady following for months, she received 12 million yuan (HK$14.4 million) from domestic private equity firms last month. [Source]
SAPPRFT has reportedly set sights on Papi Jiang for her use of profanity, ordering her videos off of streaming sites until they are edited to accord with regulations. Newly-launched English-language state media outlet Sixth Tone reports:
According to a short news article by party newspaper People’s Daily, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), a government media supervision body, has told Papi Jiang to take her videos offline. The videos can be uploaded again when the coarse language has been removed and they adhere to regulations, the People’s Daily reported on its mobile app on Monday.
SAPPRFT decided to censor Papi Jiang “following reports from the public and evaluations by experts,” said the People’s Daily.
[…] Since Monday evening Papi Jiang’s videos were no longer available on Youku, her public WeChat account, and other websites, but could still be viewed on Weibo. Papi Jiang’s agent did not respond immediately to questions from Sixth Tone.
[…] In reaction to the news, Yang Ming, a business partner of Papi Jiang, told Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper that they “will continue to make videos in accordance with socialist core values.” [Source]
At The Beijinger, Tracy Wang translates Papi Jiang’s acceptance of the criticism from state censors, and notes last minute opportunities to view the profanity-laden videos before they disappear entirely:
Jiang, who has 11.2 million followers on Weibo and whose videos have been viewed 300 million times, posted this statement on her Weibo account:
“I’m a person who is open to criticism. Only those willing to accept criticism are able to correct their mistakes and head in a better direction. As a person in the media spotlight, I will pay closer attention to my language and my image, and will resolutely make amends to my videos according to requests, as well as attempt to deliver more positive energy in the future. If you have other issues with my work, I invite your further feedback on how Papi can get better and better.”
We checked several platforms, and there are only three Papi videos on Youku and only one video on Iqiyi. Her Weibo account appears to still be hosting some of the banned them, but god only knows when they will be scrubbed as well, so bone up on your Chinese foul language skills while the opportunity still lasts. [Source]
A few of her older videos have been uploaded to her YouTube channel, where they remain.
At Tech in Asia last week, C. Custer reported that all Chinese live-streaming platforms have become the subjects of a Ministry of Culture investigation for allowing models a venue to be “vulgar”:
The Ministry of Culture says that it has already dispatched investigators, and will publicly announce punishments once it has concluded investigations.
Live streaming is a fast-growing industry on China’s web. The most popular streamers tend to be professional gamers – a top Dota 2 or League of Legends pro can attract hundreds of thousands of viewers to a stream to watch them practice the game – but there are all kinds of other streams, too. Also popular are “lifestyle” streams, which tend to feature attractive women who talk and interact with their followers while wearing revealing outfits.
Still, cleavage isn’t a crime, and the games that are popularly streamed are all legal to play in China, so it’s not clear exactly what the Ministry of Culture is planning to crack down on here.
[…] If the Ministry of Culture punishes live streaming platforms, it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see those platforms also adopt a set of similar measures [to major video provider that recently pledged to abide by a set of standards]. And punishment is essentially a guarantee; although technically the Ministry of Culture is still “investigating,” it would be a massive loss of face for the Ministry to allege wrongdoing on state TV and then ultimately find nothing. In all likelihood most of the investigation has already happened, and what remains now is figuring out how these sites should be punished. [Source]
Yes many children of rich people are privileged, that’s the point of being rich/successful – what parents rich or otherwise doesn’t want their children to be heir to their precious property/assets (if any) and have advantages [over others] in life? What to do about it? Take the rich and hence potentially more embarrassing out of the spotlight? (They are afterall ‘stars’ on the cosmic/divine Red carpet.) Hiding and pretending influential people don’t exist won’t prevent or stop anything e.g. class difference. That doesn’t mean [any] people should parade their children like a circus but in a spy/follower obsessed world we do need to know more about what the powerful/influential people are doing and how the ‘everyday person’ is involved but whilst we focus on gutter and paparazzi style media we don’t notice and even support the suppression, punishment and eradication of whistleblowers and victims (‘what makes them so special’ many ask ‘they’re full of themselves’ others say, ‘we love the dirt on public figures but finding out about corporate and security policy and implementation is a threat to national safety’ – if being a whistleblower or going through official complaints procedure – as opposed to ‘anonymous’ reporting – was an an enviable position to be in perhaps more people would volunteer for the role).
Yes females (including underage models selling older items) have traditionally been and are still used to sexualize consumer goods/services for promotion (and propaganda – sitting provocatively on a missile for example), there’s been a few high profile males in the West like the Milk Tray Man, the Diet Coke Guy, perfume and underwear models but they’re still tokens in comparison to the normalized used of the female body. It’s amazing how you see all these women with smooth, unblemished skin in these ads too – even in Dove’s (cosmetics) ‘real women’ campaigns (a photographer for which I knew showed raw images to as many male employees as he could at a different job whilst the female staff listened to their comments in humiliated discomfort), where were those representing the masses with scars and stretchmarks – why are they unattractive even less lovable whereas scars on a guy are battle trophies? Too bad the ‘ten a penny’, ‘dime a dozen’ ‘don’t be a prima donna thinking too much of yourself for wanting to be treated respectfully and not as a sex toy’ mentality prevails by both industry recruiters & technicians and consumers which ensures the exploitation of those in between regardless of their sex and gender.
I don’t particularly care about profanity as I try to listen to what people are saying both in substance and style but many get upset about it or the tone of delivery over the content – presentation is significant to people. Additionally I refuse to give up learning about the esoteric (including ‘witchcraft and reincarnation’ at the top of the article.) 😛