China is planning to monitor population flow by tracking mobile phones, in the interests of traffic management, though more nefarious motivations do suggest themselves. The system, which has been announced by the "Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission", involves tracking handsets as a proxy for people, in order to …
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Your article is interesting but your take on it is slightly unfair. China has a massive population and being able to monitor traffic and be able to forecast and control the flow is extremely important. Suggesting that their government will do more than simply monitor the population in terms of people flow is similar to suggesting that UK is a big brother state that is more than about using CCTV technology to catch criminals and are recording our every movements for other reasons.
Chinese implementing an American Idea
Didn't USA want to do that first? I recall either Verizon or T-mob looking into trials in the Seattle area for similar tech a few years back.
And how is this is different from TomTom?
According to one associate, TomTom already collect mobile data for traffic purposes across Europe. They pay for the operators to provide them "anonomised location data" which can be used to estimate traffic flows e.g. location updates for mobile A suggest it takes 5 minutes to travel along a path that looks like the M4.
As you mention, legal intercept facilities already exist in all mobile networks and can track a user far more easily than this sort of system, so suggesting anything nefarious sounds like scare mongering. I think it's just another case of copying an idea from a Western company.
Just the fact it as announced suggests there is nothing nefarious in it
China has all manner of security devices, such as those radio terminals carried by smart suited young men (undercover cops) who can swipe your visa or ID card and get a persons whole history, etc.
Their auto face recognition camera systems are equally effective but little is said about them.
So this guy speaking about this use is likely just speaking the truth.