Report Uncovers Chinese Telecom Giant Huawei’s Large Catalog of Surveillance Products
Documents recovered by The Washington Post reveal that Chinese Telecom giant Huawei has marketed its technologies to aid in population and corporate surveillance. One product has touted its success in China’s far west Xinjiang region, where Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghur people has garnered international condemnation.
A review of more than 100 Huawei marketing presentations reveals that the company has developed and pitched technologies to the Chinese government that can identify individuals by voice, monitor targeted individuals and supervise the prisoner labor schedules.
The review highlighted five PowerPoint slides that marketed Huawei technologies designed for public surveillance: voice recording analysis, prison and detention center monitoring, location tracking, Xinjiang surveillance, and corporate monitoring.
A slide was found that details a Huawei voice recording analysis management platform. The display shows how the service would take a target’s voice and run it through a voiceprint recognition engine to identify instances of the targeted person’s communications.
The system was co-developed by Huawei and artificial-intelligence iFlytek. iFlytek was placed on a sanctions list by the US Commerce Department in October 2019 for human rights violations against Uyghurs, after it was discovered that the company had forced Uyghurs to make voice recordings.
The slide says the service is for national security and defense.
Huawei also created a marketing presentation for their prison and detention center monitoring systems. Created in collaboration with Hewei, the Huawei and Hewei Smart Prison Unified Platform integrates surveillance technology such as cameras and software to manage detainees.
A slide details its successful implementation in prisons in Inner Mongolia, Shanxi province, and the Xinjiang region.
Huawei touts it smart-location tracking services as able to track targets through electronic means, license plate identification, facial recognition, and a target’s relationship network to allow authorities centralized trailing.
The tracking services are thought to already be in use by the public security department of Guangdong. The province is home to approximately 126 million people.
The report did not find Huawei directly touting its role in the surveillance of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, although it found examples of the ‘One Person One File’ facial recognition method being used in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang region, to capture supposed criminals.
12 October 2021, 15:53 GMT
Huawei purportedly developed and tested an “Uyghur alarm” that would alert authorities when a Uyghur would appear in a designated area. The company has continuously downplayed its direct involvement in Beijing’s persecution of the Uyghur people.
One of the more interesting discoveries was Huawei’s development of corporate monitoring systems to track consumers and employees. One service uses cameras and software to conduct human skeletal analysis to determine individual behavior. The service can then alert companies if an employee is sleeping, using their phone, or is away from their work area.
Turning the same cameras onto customers, it can quickly generate a demographic profile. According to the presentation, “It identifies customers’ portraits as they walk by, such as gender, clothing, occupation, etc., and accurately delivers specific product introductions to different customers.”