Skip to comments.Every Taxi in Beijing Bugged With GPS-Tagging Microphone For Instant Surveillance
Posted on 08/06/2008 10:28:39 AM PDT by CarrotAndStick
If you're in Beijing for the Olympics kick starting this weekend, don't be spilling any beans (state secrets or otherwise) in your cab back to the hotel, because you're being listened to. As the WSJ is reporting, on your taxi's dash is a microphone that can be activated remotely, at any time and without the driver's knowledge, for a live listen into any one of Beijing's estimated 70,000 cabs. And then, if the folks on the other end don't like what they hear, they can take things even further.
The GPS-equipped devices also allow for remote disabling by "cutting off the oil or electric supply," effectively shutting down the engine and keeping it from being restarted. Yikes.
Beijing police tow the general "it's for the driver's safety" line:
Whether these microphones are used to spy on riders is unclear. Asked if police could listen in on conversations in taxis, a Beijing police official declined to comment, saying that such matters were "confidential" and that they were "not supposed to release such details to the public."
As the State Department has warned, you can expect to be monitored in just about every other place, public or private. It's doubtful that every cab is being recorded at all times, but the tech is there if necessary. Comforting.
Several Beijing taxi companies declined to comment on the security aspect but said that the GPS helps track taxis and that the microphones will be used for translating services. About a dozen taxi drivers said the microphones were installed about three years ago, when newer cabs were built without protective metal cages around the drivers. Cabbies can turn on the system and alert their dispatch centers by touching a discreet button near the steering wheel.
Activists say they are concerned about the ability to listen to conversations with the devices, which appear unique to China. "This seems to suggest an effort by the police or other security forces to eavesdrop on conversations of passengers, rather than for the immediate safety and security of the taxi driver," said Phelim Kine of Human Rights Watch.
Wayne Industries is working on sonar capability that could be built into cellphones that would be even better than these Chinese taxis.
I am not familiar with the statistics, but I would be willing to bet the farm that crime in China is way way below crime in the U.S. But then again, we have to protect the rights of criminals.
It’s “for the children” no doubt.
Chairman Mao is smiling in his grave: the Mao Games will validate his monstrous cruelty.
A good set of wire cutters would be the cure for this.
It was such a good idea to allow the Chicoms to host the Olympics, wasn’t it?
Wait'll the City Councillors in Cambridge or Brookline, Ma., Seattle, or San Francisco hear about it. They'll be rushing to do the same.
Don’t anyone act surprised. Totalitarian countries have always devoted enourmous resources to spying on visiting foreigners.
Several generations worth of Soviet-era journalists, businesspeople, tourists and visiting scholars have reams of often-hilarious tales of being tripping over their “tails”, hearing clicks on the phone lines and saying goodnight to the desklamp in their hotel rooms.
I would imagine that if Chinese diplomats hop into a cab in Washington DC that the cab is bugged.
‘But then again, we have to protect the rights of criminals.’
Yea, what a shame that our Western society is so backwards and not more like Communist China.
Got that right.
I am predicting serious reprocussions out of this Olympics.
As a regular traveler to Beijing I can assure you that while there is some crime, and it is mostly petty crimes, they would never think of robbing a foreigner (most foreigners don’t carry cash and it’s illegal for resident Chinese to posess
foreign currency). The streets are very safe, even in the poorest of neighborhoods I can walk without fear. Same for the subways, even late at night. Scheduled to be back in Beijing mid September and looking forward to it.
Police states are the safest.
Until the police target YOU.
If you are not a contestant, I can not imagine why anyone would have time to waste being in China for the Olympics........
Thank the supporters of Free Trade with Communist China for the latest totalitarian ChiCom nonsense.
When you finance a Commie...he stays a Commie.
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