Cisco Systems, among other major tech giants, have been called upon by the Chinese government to build a surveillance network that encompasses approximately 500,000 cameras in a single city.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Chinese officials assert that the network is being put in place to prevent crime.
The system, being built in the city of Chongqing over the next two to three years, is among the largest and most sophisticated video-surveillance projects of its kind in China, and perhaps the world.
The project, which will span roughly 400 square miles, will cost about $2.4 billion, with the local government budgeting more than $800 million with another $1.6 billion coming from "unspecified sources."
Cisco will be responsible for developing and providing most of the hardware that will make up the vast surveillance camera network. It also represents another shift of giant Western companies bringing their business to China, which has had an uneasy (to say the least) relationship with Google but could be entertaining Facebook soon.
Naturally, there are doubts that China has other motives besides preventing crime with the set-up of this system. Such big brother-like projects already exist in plenty of other nations. Just look CCTV in the United Kingdom. You can't walk down a street in London without being recorded.
However, China is being more heavily scrutinized here as human rights advocates fear that this network will be used for spying and/or capturing political dissidents.
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