Police in East China's Anhui Province have ramped up efforts to make use of the voice recognition and analysis system to crack down on crimes such as telecoms fraud.
"We are currently collecting the voices of criminals using a voice recognition and analysis system for a database to be used by investigators in cases such as telecoms fraud," a police officer from Jixi county, Anhui Province surnamed Hu, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Similar AI technology, such as facial and voice recognition, has been used widely in China in recent years, but, some international human rights organizations have raised concerns about whether it might violate individual privacy.
Collecting voices should not be considered a violation of privacy, Hu said, because, "it's just like collecting fingerprints, or taking a photo by CCTV," adding that Anhui is a trial location for the use of the voice recognition and analysis and that all police bureaus were told to equip themselves with the system about two years ago.
The Anhui Public Security Department had been promoting the voice collecting system in the province since 2014, with the technology company iFlytek in charge of the development, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance of all the systems in the province, according to a 2015 statement of Jixi public security bureau on ccgp.gov.cn, the China Government Procurement Net website.
In 2016, iFlytek helped with telecom fraud cases and prevented losses of 500 million yuan ($75.4 million) in Anhui Province through the use of voice recognition, the company's PR representative told the Global Times on Tuesday, noting that its voice recognition and analysis system has a success rate of 99.7 percent in telecoms fraud cases.
The technology has also been used for the APEC summit in 2014 and the Beijing military parade for commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in 2015 for security, according to iFlytek.
The increased use of block-chain technology can help in tracking down and selecting the necessary information to help protect individual privacy, Hu Yu, executive director of iFlytek, told the Global Times on Tuesday, adding, "We've been pushing for a data protection law and legislations through industry alliances."
The Public Security Ministry's Key Intelligent Speech Technology Laboratory worked with the Anhui Public Security Department and iFlytek in 2012 on more than 100 cases in the first three years of the equipment, the Xinhua News Agency reported in 2015.
The voice technology is mainly used on crimes involving telecoms fraud, drug deals and kidnappings, but, in the future, could be used against terrorism or for maintaining social stability and public security, Yang Bo, a lab researcher, was quoted by Xinhua as saying.
The technology could identify a suspect by accent, or provide information on gender, height and weight, said Xinhua.
"In the future, voice collection might become a common practice when people are registering for an identity card," another Jixi police officer who asked to remain anonymous, told the Global Times.
A total of 3,960 people, suspected of telecoms fraud, were arrested the past year, including more than 400 in Cambodia, Kenya, Armenia and other countries.
Meanwhile, the increase in telecoms and Internet fraud has been contained, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
Economic losses caused by telecoms and Internet fraud in 2016 were down by 10.9 percent, said Xinhua.
This article, written by Chen Qingqing and Shan Jie, was originally published in the Global Times.