An MP has warned that China could use controversial facial recognition software to crack down on its citizens’ religious freedom.
Jim Shannon informed fellow MPs that China could use its massive network of CCTV cameras and software to “suppress people’s right to practise their religion”.
China’s high-tech facial recognition cameras allow state officials to monitor their citizens as part of a controversial Social Credit System (SCS).
SCS is a scheme where citizens who are ‘trustworthy’ receive a high rating which allows them greater freedoms and luxuries, while those who commit even minor misdemeanours are penalised.
Those with a low score may be unable to buy train tickets, apply for certain loans, and pay higher deposits when trying to rent a flat.
Speaking in a debate in Westminster Hall, Shannon explained how the technology could be used for good, such as the recent apprehension of a criminal, but also highlighted how it was being used to “fence in villagers” in Western China.
“That is a very clear illustration of how that technology can be used to the detriment of human rights and religious minorities in a country that, let us be honest, is guilty of many human rights abuses.”
He said he was “very concerned” that the secular communist state would use the scheme to penalise religious believers.
In recent years, many unregistered house churches in China have been closed by the state, including those deemed ‘too large’, while the Government continues to introduce increasingly tight controls.