Punjab 'Safe City' surveillance 

Occurred: 2016-

The Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA) was established in 2015 to improve law enforcement by creating Integrated Command, Control and Communication (IC3) programmes that gather and disseminate data and information across local government offices, police, intelligence agencies, and other organisations for major urban centres across the Punjab region of Pakistan.

The system, which comprises various technologies, including facial recognition, automated license plate/number recognition, traffic management and police notifications, proved controversial for a variety of reasons, notably the non-existent or poor functioning of parts of the system and accusations of technology 'theft'. 

System reliability, effectiveness

According to media reports, at least one quarter of the 8,000 facial recognition cameras in the first IC3, Lahore Safe City, were not in a fully-functional state for several years, meaning several major roads could not be monitored and that a number of publc areas had become centres of criminal gang activities.

Technology 'theft'

In 2021, Business Efficiency Solutions (BES) sued (pdf) Huawei and its Pakistan subsidiary for allegedly stealing its trade secrets in order to 'create a backdoor and obtain data important to Pakistan’s national security and to spy on Pakistani citizens.'

The lawsuit states that the alleged back door was located in a database that consolidated sensitive information such as national ID card records, foreigner registrations, tax records and criminal records. It also claims that Huawei demanded that it install a duplicate DES in the Chinese city of Suzhou that would give it direct access to the Pakistan data. 

Operator: Punjab Safe Cities Authority (PSCA)  
Developer: Huawei; Business Efficiency Solutions (BES)
Country: Pakistan
Sector: Govt - municipal; Govt - police
Purpose: Strengthen law enforcement
Technology: Facial recognition; Computer vision; Machine learning; Automated license plate/number recognition (ALPR/ANPR)
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Business model; Competition/collusion; Effectiveness/value; IP/copyright; Privacy; Security; Scope creep/normalisation; Supply chain management; Surveillance
Transparency: Governance; Privacy

Page info
Type: System
Published: June 2023