From cameras placed outside people’s front doors to security guards and cleaners tasked with keeping an eye on those in quarantine. This “Big Brother” style surveillance step up by authorities in Beijing has been framed as a necessary response to curbing a resurgence of the pandemic. Workers were seen adjusting surveillance cameras outside the home of a journalist placed under quarantine.
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The journalist had traveled from Beijing to visit Wuhan on May 3.
She was then placed under quarantine and a security camera was set up outside her apartment.
Friederike Boege, a German journalist, began her second quarantine in Beijing this year on Sunday after returning from Hubei’s capital Wuhan.
Her building’s management installed a camera in front of her door to monitor her movements.
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“It’s quite scary how you get used to such things,” she told AFP. “Apart from the camera I do believe that the guards and the cleaner on the compound would denunciate me if I were to go out,” Boege said.
During her previous quarantine experience in March after returning from a trip to Thailand, she was reported to building management by a cleaner for going downstairs to take out the trash.
A 34-year-old Irish expat, named Ian Lahiffe, returned home from southern China to Beijing and found a CCTV camera being installed outside his apartment.
The Chinese state-run tabloid The Global Times has said that these cameras are only a temporary measure and that they will be removed when residents complete their quarantines.
The Global Times stresses that only a few apartments have had security cameras installed outside.
The tabloid suggested that most other apartments would be monitored via a magnetic alarm that would inform authorities whenever the door of the residence would open.
The newspaper said: “Several people who have undergone home quarantine told our reporters that they understood and accepted such a measure and didn’t think it would cause privacy concerns.”
Mass surveillance in China is primarily conducted through the government, although non-publicized corporate surveillance in connection with the Chinese government has been speculated to occur.
China monitors its citizens through the Internet-based cameras as well as through CCTV cameras.
Mass surveillance in China is closely related to its Social Credit System, and has significantly expanded under the China Internet Security Law and with the help of local companies like Tencent.
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