Chinese technology companies are helping the United Nations develop international standards for facial recognition, video surveillance and urban and vehicle surveillance, according to a DOCUMENT from the United Nations-owned International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Financial Times reported Tuesday. Companies listed in the document include ZTE, Dahua and China Telecom.
Screenshot: Financial Times
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is one of the 15 permanent bodies of the United Nations, headquartered in Geneva and currently has 192 member States. Its main task is to allocate radio resources and to organize international long-distance interconnection programmes between countries.
The article points out that the standards set by the agency have important implications for guiding the development and application of technology in developing countries. Many countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia generally accept their standards as policies.
These standards usually take two years to draft and adopt, and companies or Governments can propose them and then accept them for discussion by Member States. For a company, participating in the development of international standards allows it to be more closely integrated with the company’s own unique technology, thereby gaining an advantage in the market.
Over the past few years, China’s surveillance infrastructure has been installed in large areas from Angola to Zimbabwe. Earlier this year, South African company Vumacam installed 15,000 facial recognition cameras from Hywon vision in Johannesburg.
In August, Uganda confirmed the installation of a face recognition camera provided by Huawei across the country. Singapore’s government also plans to install similar cameras on smart lampposts, according to local media reports, while Chinese start-up Etu Technologies is bidding.
“A group of Chinese companies has begun to rise and capture a global market share in these areas, such as facial recognition and video surveillance. Steven Feldstein, an expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a U.S. think tank, said. “The Chinese government’s decision to promote the development of artificial intelligence and to give priority to related investments is the result of this policy. “
On Tuesday, ITU’s Department of Public Information responded to the US media by not denying the Financial Times report and acknowledging that “ITU standard-setting is driven primarily by its private sector members through recommendations” and that the standardization process was transparent and based on the principle of ensuring that all voices were heard.