With threats and abusing rights, the CCP makes its citizens give samples of their biometric data, often disguised as mandatory medical exams or other pretenses.
by Jiang Tao
Work-organized biometric data collection
Residents in the central province of Henan reported to Bitter Winter that in May 2019, their employers – from schools to businesses – formed them into groups of up to a dozen people and told them to go to assigned police stations to give blood, voice samples, finger/palm/footprints, and have their weight and height taken, and faces photographed from three sides. The police also inspected their cellphones. It took each person from 15 to 20 minutes to complete the procedure.
“Officers explained that these biometric identifiers are intended to be archived. It has started with workplaces; all other residents will follow suit later,” a company employee said.
“I feel like I have no privacy: facial recognition systems identify me on streets, my phone calls are monitored as if I were a prisoner,” another company employee complained to Bitter Winter. “I am under surveillance through various high-tech systems wherever I go.”
Similar biometric data collection drives have been implemented in rural areas of Xinmi city. In the neighboring Dengfeng city, village committees’ officials told residents that this was being done as part of the compulsory physical examination and took some villagers to police stations themselves. According to a government insider, police stations in some localities were even assigned quotas of people to take biometric data from.
Photos for the facial recognition database
In Tonghua, a prefecture-level city in the northeastern province of Jilin, police officers went from door to door in May last year, to take photos of residents on their cellphones for the facial recognition database. They also registered people’s identity information and data on the property they own.
Meanwhile, the Public Security Bureau in Tonghua’s Huinan county dispatched nearly 150 assistant police officers to take photos of residents in villages within the jurisdiction. Villagers in Tonghua’s Liuhe county were asked to bring their ID cards and cellphones to village committees to have their personal information registered and photos taken for facial recognition.
DNA collection is mandatory
Residents from townships in Zigong, Yibin, Bazhong, and Nanchong cities in the southwestern province of Sichuan, had to give blood last April. Officials told them that this was needed for them to get the third-generation identity cards, or they were lied to that their blood was drawn as part of the government-organized physical exams. Some were asked to give their saliva samples as well. When people asked to be given a copy of their health reports, they were refused. Police officers threatened those who did not want to give blood that their health insurance would be revoked.
Residents of some townships in Liaoning and Hebei provinces in the north of China reported to Bitter Winter that blood collection was mandatory, and those working out of town were called back. Police officers sometimes stopped villagers on roadsides to get their blood samples.
“The police threatened us,” a villager from Hebei told Bitter Winter. “If we refuse to give our blood samples, they won’t handle our families’ household registration, identity card applications, or political reviews for army recruitment in the future.”
Residents from provinces across China, especially men, are being forced to provide DNA information for a nationwide database, raising human rights and privacy concerns. In the United States, law enforcement agencies are only allowed to take DNA samples from criminals arrested for felonies, unless the police obtain a court authorization or personal consent. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, ruled in December 2008 against the United Kingdom, directing to destroy the collected DNA records of hundreds of thousands of people without a criminal record. The court said that such data collection is in violation of Article 8 – the right to respect for private and family life – of the European Convention on Human Rights.