iFlytek automated speech recognition surveillance
Occurred: October 2017
Chinese technology company iFlytek is partnering with China's Ministry of Public Security to develop a database and voice recognition system.
According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the two parties intended to develop a pilot surveillance system that builds on the Chinese government's existing Automatic Speaker Recognition system to automatically identify targeted voices in phone conversations.
Chinese media reports suggested the system will be applied for counterterrorism and 'stability maintenance' purposes.
Chinese police are thought to have collected approximately 70,000 voice samples by 2015. By contrast, the country's facial image database contained data on over a billion individuals. iFlytek made 80 percent of China's speech recognition technology, HRW said.
The finding raised concerns about the surveillance and privacy of Chinese citizens and ethnic minorities, notably Uyghurs and Tibetans,
Operator: Government of China; iFlytek
Developer: Ministry of Public Security; iFlytek
Sector: Govt - police; Govt - security
Purpose: Maintain social stability
Technology: Speech recognition
Issue: Privacy; Surveillance
Transparency: Governance; Marketing
Human Rights Watch (2017). Letter to iFlytek Chairman (pdf)
Human Rights Watch (2017). China: Voice Biometric Collection Threatens Privacy
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Published: August 2023