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posted by martyb on Friday May 26 2017, @01:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the what-comes-next? dept.

Chinese police are amassing a huge amount of genetic information in Xinjiang:

Police in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, China, have been collecting DNA samples from citizens and are now ramping up their capacity to analyse that genetic cache, according to evidence compiled by activists and details gathered by Nature. The advocacy group Human Rights Watch reported last month that Xinjiang authorities intend to accelerate efforts to gather blood samples from the region's large population of Muslim Uighur people. China's government has cracked down on Xinjiang's separatist movement in recent years, so the prospect of a DNA database there has stoked fears that authorities could use it as a political weapon.

[...] In its report, the organization said that Xinjiang's police had ordered 12 DNA sequencers. Nature has confirmed the order and learned, from documents and interviews with those involved in the transaction, that the police have purchased enough machines to process up to 2,000 DNA samples per day. The police department hung up when Nature rang to ask about the reason for the purchase.

[...] Many countries use DNA fingerprinting to solve crimes, reunite kidnapped children with their parents and identify bodies, and some researchers say that the boost in Xinjiang's DNA-analysis capacity does not, by itself, stand out. "Expansion of police surveillance is expected by any civilized nation," says Sara Katsanis, who researches the applications of genetic testing at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Still, Katsanis and others worry about how DNA is being collected in China and especially in Xinjiang. Last year, Human Rights Watch reported that citizens in Xinjiang were required to give a blood sample to get a passport. And in March, Chinese state media detailed the conclusion of a 4-month programme during which 17.5 million people — who were predominantly Uighurs — were given health checks, including blood tests. Last week, reports emerged that many of the people who underwent these examinations had been forced to do so.

Previously:
China Bans Islam-Related Names in Xinjiang


Original Submission

Related Stories

Politics: China Bans Islam-Related Names in Xinjiang 56 comments

Officials in Xinjiang will deny benefits to children with certain Islamic or Islam-related names:

Many couples fret over choosing the perfect name for their newborn, but for Muslims in western China that decision has now become even more fraught: pick the wrong name and your child will be denied education and government benefits.

Officials in the western region of Xinjiang, home to roughly half of China's 23 million Muslims, have released a list of banned baby names amid an ongoing crackdown on religion, according to a report by US-funded Radio Free Asia.

Names such as Islam, Quran, Saddam and Mecca, as well as references to the star and crescent moon symbol, are all unacceptable to the ruling Communist party and children with those names will be denied household registration, a crucial document that grants access to social services, healthcare and education.

Muhammad, Jihad, Medina, Mujahid, Arafat, Imam, Hajj, and Yultuzay are also banned.

Also at NYT. Reuters story about other restrictions that went into effect on April 1st.

Related: West Facing 'Payback' for Colonialism, says China's State-run Paper
China's Xi Jinping Negotiates $46bn Superhighway to Pakistan
Facebook's Zuckerberg Meets With China's Propaganda Chief, Social Media Mocks Facebook Block


Original Submission

Study Predicts Appearance From Genome Sequence Data 10 comments

Anonymity continues to die a little every day:

The physical traits predicted from genome sequence data may be sufficient to identify anonymous individuals in the absence of other information, according to a study set to appear in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week.

After looking for links between physical phenotypes and whole-genome sequence data for more than 1,000 individuals from a range of ancestral groups, researchers from the US and Singapore took a crack at predicting biometric traits based on genetic data with the help of a newly developed algorithm. In a group of de-identified individuals, they reported, the algorithm made it possible to identify a significant proportion of individuals based on predictions of three-dimensional facial structure, ethnicity, height, weight, and other traits.

"By associating de-identified genomic data with phenotypic measurements of the contributor, this work challenges current conceptions of genomic privacy," senior author Craig Venter, of Human Longevity and the J. Craig Venter Institute, and his co-authors wrote. "It has significant ethical and legal implications on personal privacy, the adequacy of informed consent, the viability and value of de-identification of data, the potential for police profiling, and more."

[...] [Genome] sequences [...] are not currently protected as identifying data under the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's Safe Harbor method for ensuring anonymous and de-identified patient information.

Also at Bio-IT World, PRNewswire, and San Diego Union Tribune.

Previously: Creating Wanted Posters from DNA Samples

Related: EFF to Supreme Court: The Fourth Amendment Covers DNA Collection
Kuwait Creating Mandatory DNA Database of All Citizens, Residents--and Visitors
Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China
Routine Whole Genome Sequencing: Not Scary?


Original Submission

Massive DNA Collection Campaign Continues in Xinjiang, China 33 comments

Human Rights Watch has issued a report about DNA collection in Xinjiang province in China:

Chinese police have started gathering blood types, DNA samples, fingerprints and iris scans from millions of people in its Muslim-majority Xinjiang province to build a massive citizen database, according to report by activist group Human Rights Watch.

The report, published Wednesday, said officials are collecting the data from citizens between the ages of 12 and 65 years old using a variety of methods. Authorities are gathering DNA and blood types through free medical checkups, and HRW said it was unclear if patients were aware that their biometric data was being collected for the police during these physical exams.

According to the report, citizens authorities have flagged as a potential threat to the regime, and their families—named "focus personnel"—are forced to hand over their DNA regardless of age.

So far, 18.8 million citizens have participated in the medical checkups, called "Physicals for All" by the government, according to an article by a state news agency Xinhua on November 1.

Previously: Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China


Original Submission

China Installs Surveillance App on Smartphones of Visitors to Xinjiang Region 19 comments

China Snares Tourists' Phones in Surveillance Dragnet by Adding Secret App

China has turned its western region of Xinjiang into a police state with few modern parallels, employing a combination of high-tech surveillance and enormous manpower to monitor and subdue the area's predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. Now, the digital dragnet is expanding beyond Xinjiang's residents, ensnaring tourists, traders and other visitors — and digging deep into their smartphones.

A team of journalists from The New York Times and other publications examined a policing app used in the region, getting a rare look inside the intrusive technologies that China is deploying in the name of quelling Islamic radicalism and strengthening Communist Party rule in its Far West. The use of the app has not been previously reported.

China's border authorities routinely install the app on smartphones belonging to travelers who enter Xinjiang by land from Central Asia, according to several people interviewed by the journalists who crossed the border recently and requested anonymity to avoid government retaliation. Chinese officials also installed the app on the phone of one of the journalists during a recent border crossing. Visitors were required to turn over their devices to be allowed into Xinjiang. The app gathers personal data from phones, including text messages and contacts. It also checks whether devices are carrying pictures, videos, documents and audio files that match any of more than 73,000 items included on a list stored within the app's code.

Politics: DNA Databases in the U.S. and China are Tools of Racial Oppression 166 comments

DNA Databases in the U.S. and China Are Tools of Racial Oppression

Two major world powers, the United States and China, have both collected an enormous number of DNA samples from their citizens, the premise being that these samples will help solve crimes that might have otherwise gone unsolved. While DNA evidence can often be crucial when it comes to determining who committed a crime, researchers argue these DNA databases also pose a major threat to human rights.

In the U.S., the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has a DNA database called the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) that currently contains over 14 million DNA profiles. This database has a disproportionately high number of profiles of black men, because black Americans are arrested five times as much as white Americans. You don't even have to be convicted of a crime for law enforcement to take and store your DNA; you simply have to have been arrested as a suspect.

[...] As for China, a report that was published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in mid-June claims that China is operating the "world's largest police-run DNA database" as part of its powerful surveillance state. Chinese authorities have collected DNA samples from possibly as many as 70 million men since 2017, and the total database is believed to contain as many as 140 million profiles. The country hopes to collect DNA from all of its male citizens, as it argues men are most likely to commit crimes.

DNA is reportedly often collected during what are represented as free physicals, and it's also being collected from children at schools. There are reports of Chinese citizens being threatened with punishment by government officials if they refuse to give a DNA sample. Much of the DNA that's been collected has been from Uighur Muslims that have been oppressed by the Chinese government and infamously forced into concentration camps in the Xinjiang province.

Related:


Original Submission

U.S. Places Sanctions on DJI and Biotech Groups for Mass Surveilance of Uyghurs in Xinjiang 29 comments

U.S. Cracks Down on Firms Said to Aid China's Repression of Minorities

The Biden administration said on Thursday that it would put limits on doing business with a group of Chinese companies and institutions it says are involved in misusing biotechnology to surveil and repress Muslim minorities in China and advancing Beijing's military programs.

In announcing one set of the moves, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said China was employing biotechnology and medical innovation "to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups."

The administration said those efforts included the use of biometric facial recognition and large-scale genetic testing of residents 12 to 65 in the mostly Muslim region of Xinjiang.

China has used such technology to track and control the Uyghurs, a predominately Muslim ethnic group.

[...] In its announcement on Thursday, the Biden administration said Beijing was using advances in biotechnology to drive forward its military modernization. A senior administration official called out China's work to edit human genes for performance enhancement and create ways for human brains to connect more directly to machines.

Also caught in the crosshairs is the drone company DJI, for providing drones used by the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau to surveil Uyghurs, Megvii, which makes artificial intelligence and facial recognition software, and Dawning Information Industry (also known as Sugon), a manufacturer of supercomputers and provider of cloud-computing services.

See also: Disney under fire for 'Mulan' credits that thank Chinese groups linked to detention camps

Previously: Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China
Massive DNA Collection Campaign Continues in Xinjiang, China
China Installs Surveillance App on Smartphones of Visitors to Xinjiang Region
DNA Databases in the U.S. and China are Tools of Racial Oppression
The Panopticon is Already Here: China's Use of "Artificial Intelligence"


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @01:19PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @01:19PM (#515946)

    OMG socialism! Moooooooooooslims! Government DNA collection! Human Rights Watch and Moooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooslims!

    Tell me what to think, SN!

  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday May 26 2017, @01:36PM (10 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 26 2017, @01:36PM (#515948) Homepage Journal

    All I have is a stupid joke.

    If you take DNA sampes from every Chinese in China, how much variance is there? Somewhere between zip and zilch.

    Well, I warned you it was stupid - you didn't have to read it.

    --
    Don’t confuse the news with the truth.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @02:03PM (5 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @02:03PM (#515959)

      What if there are genes that largely distinguish Uighurs from Han? There might be a temptation to create an ethnic bioweapon.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday May 26 2017, @02:43PM (2 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 26 2017, @02:43PM (#515972) Journal
        Or just good old fashioned ethnic cleansing/genocide.
        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Friday May 26 2017, @04:44PM (1 child)

          by bob_super (1357) on Friday May 26 2017, @04:44PM (#516018)

          The Chinese don't eradicate outright, they dilute.

          Old comedian talking as a Chinese: the egg has a yellow part and a whiteish part. When you mix the two, the whole thing is yellow.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday May 26 2017, @05:19PM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday May 26 2017, @05:19PM (#516038) Journal
            I did mention ethnic cleansing, so I got that covered. But one can't rule out genocide since the Chinese are putting into play a tool that makes that easier and more effective without any sort of institutional safeguards against genocide at the national level (such as democratic elections).
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @05:09PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @05:09PM (#516033)

        > ethnic bioweapon.

        Ethnic sensor would suffice; bioweapons bring international condemnation, guns and clubs don't. "Touch this thumbpad like for insulin measurement please" - 30s later a screen lights up showing ethnic mix, and what level of violence is allowed.

        Disgusting.

        And probable near-future.

      • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday May 27 2017, @03:13AM

        by kaszz (4211) on Saturday May 27 2017, @03:13AM (#516273) Journal

        No need for a bio-weapon. It's enough to simply being able to differentiate people according to genetic markers. And treat them differently when it comes to freedom of movement and welfare to make the suffer. It would serve the interest of the the Chinese government to be able to geofence the whole Muslim population on a industrial scale.

        It's not that far fetched..

        Though with 21 815 815 people living in the region and a capacity of 2000 people per day it will take 30 years to complete. So something is missing. Either they intend to expand the capacity by a factor of say 10 or they will utilize random sampling to home in on the genetic markers to differentiate people. And then use that to stamp identity papers with full or second class citizenry.

        Otoh, they do have the capacity to design a bio-weapon. The catch is that it's unreliable and may as well wipe out populations elsewhere and then they can get "quite" angry. Not a good idea. But given a few more bits of the puzzle it should be possible to figure out what they are up to.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @03:43PM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @03:43PM (#515998)

      Anyway, these people are not Chinese. As one told me, loud enough to get the Chinese to look around and take notice, "I am not Chinese, I am Türk!"

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @09:52PM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @09:52PM (#516151)

        Runaway's Chinese education is still failing. He's just an American racist, like the guys in another era who beat up a Chinese American in Detroit because the Japanese were taking American automotive industry jobs by building better cars. Racists. Their jokes are not funny.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27 2017, @12:15AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27 2017, @12:15AM (#516209)

          Your trolling might have had some impact at the top of this conversation. Coming at the end, it looks more like a petulant child who hasn't been able to understand the exchange. Poor little retard.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27 2017, @01:46AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27 2017, @01:46AM (#516233)

            And your trolling of the troll is even more petulant and childish than the original racist american! 白左! 白左!

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by black6host on Friday May 26 2017, @01:53PM (6 children)

    by black6host (3827) on Friday May 26 2017, @01:53PM (#515955) Journal

    In my world, "Expansion of police surveillance is expected by any civilized nation," (Sara Katsanis,) is not expected at all. When I read her quote my response was: 1. Strongly Disagree

    Now perhaps she was just being pragmatic and meant we're all doomed, it's going to happen anyway.

    Well, back to the rest of the world, crazy times, crazy times.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Phoenix666 on Friday May 26 2017, @02:27PM (2 children)

      by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday May 26 2017, @02:27PM (#515967) Journal

      I had the same reaction. I invite Sara Katsanis and everyone in government and the citizenry who shares her opinions to emigrate to North Korea.

      The pendulum in America needs to swing back to freedom with a vengeance.

      --
      Washington DC delenda est.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @03:51PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @03:51PM (#516001)

        Please note Sara Katsanis does not work for government - she is a researcher at Duke. Her specialty, apparently, is about how the genetic technologies are applied and used in formulating policies. I am guessing as part of this she has data to show that authoritarianism is a natural progression at THIS POINT in time. So no need to deport her to North Korea.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27 2017, @04:58AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27 2017, @04:58AM (#516303)

        Society is becoming more divided. Each division wants to be rid of the others.

        Things will get worse until society is monocultural again, which only happens as a new culture arises from the leftovers of a bloody genocide.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by takyon on Friday May 26 2017, @05:59PM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Friday May 26 2017, @05:59PM (#516052) Journal

      Good quote, huh? We just expect it now. Certainly the U.S. has been amassing a lot of biometric data and DNA samples, so it's no shock to see China doing the same.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @08:48PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @08:48PM (#516115)

      “Those who are willing to surrender their freedom for security have always demanded that if they give up their full freedom it should also be taken from those not prepared to do so.” - Friedrich Hayek

    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Saturday May 27 2017, @03:03AM

      by kaszz (4211) on Saturday May 27 2017, @03:03AM (#516270) Journal

      Sara Katsanis seems to have a very unfounded idea on what constitutes a civilized nation. The design of society has to consider that even those in power positions suffer from idiocy, groupthink, greed, opportunism and especially psychopathy. Failing to take this into account leads to misery.

      Police is like pepper. Too little or too much ain't good. Only the right balance will work in the long run.

  • (Score: 2) by Taibhsear on Friday May 26 2017, @02:24PM

    by Taibhsear (1464) on Friday May 26 2017, @02:24PM (#515965)

    "Expansion of police surveillance is expected by any civilized nation,"

    Is it though?
    Personally, I'd expect any civilized nation to understand the concepts of personal privacy and bodily autonomy.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @05:05PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 26 2017, @05:05PM (#516030)

    FTS: "Expansion of police surveillance is expected by any civilized nation," says Sara Katsanis

    What?! Sorry, please justify this statement. Or does the verb "expected" in this context mean "governments of civilized nations have momentum towards increased expansion of police surveillance, so they would be surprised if that somehow stopped or even slowed"?

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