Might China’s Coronavirus Surveillance Come to the US?

published on July 2, 2020

China has built a massive nationwide

surveillance system to fight the corona

virus and it might be coming to the us

next book mech Jun and censored I'm

Chris Chappell

as if dissidents in China didn't have

enough to be worried about China already

had a massive surveillance system but

with the spread of the corona virus that

system has been pushed into overdrive

joining me today to discuss this is Greg

Baba Chia an expert in

counterintelligence and corporate

espionage he's also a former

intelligence sergeant in the US Army

thanks for joining me thanks for having

me so China has a kind of digital

Orwellian society that's never been seen

before how has this system been used

during the corona virus outbreak so what

China is doing and what the CCP is doing

is they're expanding this already

staggering amount of information they

collect on their citizens to levels that

are truly Orwellian that you wouldn't

even believe were possible before so how

is this kind of tracking different from

what the Communist Party was already

doing so what they were already doing

was this kind of blanket surveillance

sucking up everything they're tracking

locations of phones but now what they're

doing is they're analyzing that data and

a bit of a different way kind of seeing

who's in what kind of proximity to who

else they're also tracking some things I

don't think they've been doing in

earnest before things like temperature

readings when people travel they're

looking more closely at where people

have traveled

I'm also imagining there's looking at

search terms people are using for

symptoms of the disease also has it been

effective at stopping the spread of the

corona virus yeah so that's a tough one

because the Chinese government is

arguably the best in modern times at

controlling what type of information is

coming out of the Great Firewall so

we're saying the numbers are relatively

low and they're you know pretending

they're doing a great job of containing

it but a lot of what we're seeing

leaking doesn't make sense you're seeing

a lot of cellphone subscribe

subscriptions disappear seemingly

overnight

these leaked pictures of a lot of urns

so the numbers certainly don't jive with

what the Communist Party is giving to

the world well so how else might this

surveillance system be used by the

Communist Party after the corona virus

is over yes oh one interesting thing

they're doing is they're kind of showing

their hand a little more everybody knows

and you know their citizens are the same

that they're collecting all the

information but this quarantine is

forcing them to act on it a lot faster

which is having them show their hand

till there are technical capabilities so

a lot of what happens when you do these

type of dragnet technical operations is

other data that isn't related to Cove it

gets picked up so I want to be surprised

a good example would be there's a couple

of people who are known for subversive

activities against the government and

they've been hanging out in the same

place or let's say cohabitating when

that might have not been obvious to the

Communist Party before they're probably

going to trip over this type of

information and then use it to target

people for political means as well so

why is this so important for the regime

this is important because the only way

they could project their power on the

international scene is to show that they

are able to maintain security of their

population they are able to make their

population happy and manufacture all

these goods for the whole world so when

they start losing control of that it

makes them look terrible on the

international stage and it hurts the

ability they have to control their

population if the citizenry starts to

doubt their the Chinese Communist

Party's ability to protect them all of a

sudden they're gonna start thinking you

know why are we risking so much and

working so hard for this what we're

seeing that is especially interested is

the medical and scientific community

when you look at how some of the Cove in

nineteen whistleblowers were discredited

and very literally let die you start

realizing that the CCP is not interested

in true scientific outcomes they're only

interested in supporting outcomes when

they're congruent with the party

information lines so you think this new

surveillance system is really a result

of the party being even more worried

about maintaining its grip on power

absolutely I think they are getting a

little bit desperate they wouldn't be

using things we're seeing facial

recognition being used to track people

who aren't wearing masks something else

is very interesting reports about

integrating the thermal imaging and the

facial recognition to kind of see who's

got a fever that's interesting

technology it's commodity technology

that exists but the fact that the CCP is

letting it get out to all their citizens

citizens at once that they're using it

is interesting there they seem to be

panicking a little and they're letting

they're willing to let a little bit more

of what they have under buying the cloak

kind of show so what ramifications might

this have I think if there was ever a

time for the kind of younger

college-educated people to get the wool

removed from their eyes and see that

this party is only concerned with

existing in perpetuity it doesn't really

care about the health of the nation and

the citizens they're watching their

friends and family die and not be able

to get medical care I think this is

coupled with with the protests we've

been seeing in Hong Kong and other

places now's an interesting time that

some sort of uprising could take place

China is also not in a position now to

squash something like they were during

Tiananmen Square for example the

international community is just not in a

place where they would stand for that so

they're losing a lot of their leverage

over the population most of that

leverage is things are great things

you're good we're providing for you

you're working the parties happy why

rock the boat that's changing now so

this whole surveillance system it's in

China so why should Americans care well

Americans should care for a few reasons

one it's important to know what is going

on in China because the dent population

here can public opinion can inform our

leadership's trade and diplomatic

opinions and regulations that are being

enforced this would be difficult to

implement for a few reasons in the

United States but it is not impossible

months ago you would think it would be

crazy that the government would shut

down all businesses and force us to stay

in our homes to a certain extent so it's

a bit of a slippery slope when

public health and national security

strings could be pulled so with some

leading experts and even some major

Western media praising China's response

to the ground virus you think it's

possible somebody will start suggesting

this kind of system in the United States

I think it's already been suggested in

some sort of the news outlets here we're

seen but there's a couple of problems

for that it makes sense because you know

we can't trust people too socially

distance let's say and does social

distancing work sure anecdotally yes it

goes to reason that diseases proliferate

when there's human contact so if we lock

everybody up

it can't proliferate it's easy for China

to do this because they do not have

civil liberties and a constitution to

worry about while the technological

capability certainly exists for this

type of collection and analysis in the

United States the problem is it's not

really legally feasible currently

without more emergency edicts and it's

certainly not culturally palatable

well US tech companies say that they can

keep user data anonymous so really what

is the problem with this kind of

tracking in the us yeah it could be

done in an academic lever for sure the

problem you're gonna see and I've done

some of these big data and a little

problem sets before where this is most

important is in these large dense cities

the New York City Los Angeles things

like that New York City is a great

example that's the epicenter of this

right now New York City is very dense

but it's also a very vertically dense

City so when you're doing this type of

analysis and I'm assuming we're talking

about getting terrestrial analysis you

know somehow compelling a telecom

company to share this with the

government it's hard to do that type of

geo analysis because when you're looking

at a flat earth from the top down you

and I may look like we're right next to

each other but in reality you're on

floor 57 of the high-rise and I'm in the

basement so there's a lot more nuance to

how this would be carried out in real

life what about the fact that Chinese

drone companies like DJ I are giving

drones to the US to help enforce these

social distancing measures

we should be very concerned about

everything DJI I have worked at places

in the past where counter-intel for the

company was under my purview and we put

out blanket you are not to utilize any

of technology from DJI the Internet of

Things is a huge vulnerability now if

you walk around your home and see all

the devices that are connected to the

Internet that are sending data 999

percent of them are coming from China

it's very possible that they've been

implemented with some you know appliance

in them that could send data back things

like your smart home devices your

routers your modems even wearable tech

very scary what's they're able to

collect what would China do with that

kind of information so if you remember a

few years ago China hacked into the

Office of Personnel management's

database that holds United States DoD

security clearances so they have names

and addresses and a lot of PII people

who are affiliated with the government

now they're very lucky that everybody is

dispersed and everybody's working from

home so things like for emails for

example when you transport an email

there's header information that has the

IPS that are attached to everywhere the

email bounces during its transport from

point A to point B that used to always

be coming from the headquarters of the

business or your you know public office

where everybody knows now if China has

the ability to let's say intercept these

emails in transit now all these emails

from these people who are working from

home are coming from their home routers

so with the IP information you can

geolocate really you know very literally

map all the employees of an entity or

targeting where they live Wow well so

the corona virus is a real problem where

do you draw the line between security

and freedom that age-old argument yeah

so this is a you know a legal discussion

and it's just one of the most American

discussions that have been happening in

all sorts of ways since the beginning of

the country with the Patriot Act and

things like that the security versus

civil liberties the legal argument would

have to be made is if Americans could

keep it together and say in their homes

they are citizens need to not force the

government to have to take this kind of

action and declare

national states of emergency and martial

law and say that by going outside and

out social distancing you're its

criminal mischief kosher

you know knowingly possibly spreading

this disease so that's what's at stake

here well if if the idea is that this is

kind of coming no matter what

how can people protect their privacy yep

so using our new tribunal devices is

great what you want to make sure for you

you know your personal cyber hygiene is

very important doing things behind a VPN

using encrypted messaging apps those are

some of the best practices to protect

yourself are there any other specific

recommendations you would have yeah you

got to keep yourself updated make sure

you've got the most current versions of

all the software you're on and every now

and then I hit a search engine and look

at the type of router or modem you're

using and see what vulnerabilities exist

and if you need to patch them hmm

alright well thank you very much for

joining me today

thanks for having me what a pleasure

great and if you'd like to know more

about the surveillance activities the US

government is involved in check out my

recent episode on our other channel

America uncovered the episode is called

coronavirus now the government will be

tracking you thanks for watching once

again I'm Chris Chappell see you next

time

[Music]

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