Inside the biggest human surveillance experiment on the planet

It was in this techno-authoritarian wave that a facial recognition mania costing tens of billions of dollars began. Government policies with sci-fi names like SkyNet and Sharp Eyes laid out ambitious plans to blanket the country with cameras linked to police stations that shared data across the country. The vision was clear: just like on the internet, anonymity could be erased in real life. With accurate facial recognition, police could identify, categorise and follow a single person among 1.4 billion Chinese citizens.

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