Chinese police using software from US tech firm Oracle for massive surveillance operations: report

Chinese police using software from US tech firm Oracle for massive surveillance operations: report
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File
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Authorities in China are reportedly using software developed by American tech firm Oracle to surveil and enforce a sort of Minority Report-style system of policing the Chinese population. 

According to the Intercept, Oracle’s products are being used by multiple law enforcement agencies in China to analyze massive amounts of data that are then used to surveil and track citizens. One such place where Oracle’s technology is reportedly being used is the concentration camps in Xinjiang, where the Chinese Communist government has reportedly detained up to two million members of the Uyghur ethnic minority along with an unknown number of political prisoners. 

The United States government under former Sec. of State Mike Pompeo described China’s actions as tantamount to “genocide.” 

A slideshow previously hosted on Oracle’s own website for a piece of technology called the “Oracle Public Security Data Analysis Engine” details how police in Liaoning province utilize the software engine for “criminal analysis and prediction.” The slideshow reportedly accompanied a presentation given at Oracle’s California headquarters in 2018, where police from the province were able to trawl through massive amounts of data using Oracle’s platform to identify potential suspects. 

The technology essentially enables the Chinese government to predict and mark individuals deemed dangerous, or potentially dangerous, for arrest before they even commit a crime.

Oracle’s marketing materials proudly boast that the company could enable Chinese law enforcement agencies to collate and collect information from various sources, including social media activity, facial recognition, DNA database  and much more public and private data. 

Speaking to the Intercept, Oracle spokesperson Jessie Moore said that the presentations were simply theoretical and that the deals the company makes in China are fully compliant with U.S. export controls and sanctions. 

In contradiction to Oracle’s official statement of denial, the slides actually exhibit how Chinese security forces have used the technology. 

“The police province in China used the software,” said former Oracle Senior Director Xavier Lopez. “The data didn’t come from us. The data came from the province. The province uses the software, they license the software to use for different things, for different use cases. And this was one example of when they used it for that particular use case.”

In addition, the Intercept report states that Oracle has also aimed its marketing material towards Chinese military agencies, but it is unclear if any of those entities currently use its products. The report states that Oracle allegedly created multiple Chinese language marketing presentations for the Chinese People's Liberation Army and other national security agencies. 

Oracle is also currently in business with the U.S. government, including all five branches of the U.S. military, as well as NASA, the CIA, and numerous police departments. If the report is accurate, the technology currently in use by the U.S. government is also being hawked to the Chinese government and its military and police apparatus. 

Oracle was the leading bidder in the failed purchase of video sharing app TikTok, after former President Trump called for a domestic ban on the Chinese social media platform.

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  • By David Menzies

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