By Tenzin Dharpo
Chinese authorities gathering details for the SSC. Photo- eng.Tibet.cn
DHARAMSHALA, Apr. 29: The Chinese government’s program to digitally include people in the social security system has drawn flak from rights group who say that the system could be detrimental in areas such as occupied Tibet where the same could be employed as a surveillance tool to further restrict rights of Tibetans.
The social security system keeps tab on each individual through a personalized smart card which holds an embedded chip that contains the holder’s name, citizenship number, profile photo, social insurance contributions, among other personal details. Critics suspect that the electronic chip could be used for tracking and surveillance objectives as well.
The social security cards were issued particularly in the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region beginning August 2017. Many Tibetans in Nyingchi, Lhasa, Lhoka and Ngari have been issued the SSC cards. Residents in areas in eastern Tibet, like Chengdu and Golmud were also given cards between mid-June 2017 and April 2018, Tibet Watch said.
The same group cited an earlier scheme between 2012 and 2013, where authorities in TAR rolled out free health services that involved obtaining DNA samples, facial scans, fingerprints, iris scans, and information about blood types.
“While these cards are practical for day to day life, for example access to health facilities, fears still remain that they could be used for the purposes of tracking and easily used to cut off social benefits and access to services as a punishment for behaviour that the Chinese Communist Party objects to,” the Dharamshala based rights group said.