hong kong protests in june

Hong Kong Protesters Take Down ‘Smart Lamps’ Amid Growing Fears of Chinese Surveillance Tech

The pro-democracy demonstrators have used several tactics to avoid being identified through facial recognition technology, including masks and laser pointers.

As conflicts between Hong Kong protesters and police have escalated into violence in recent days, pro-democracy activists are not only fighting for universal suffrage and an end to police brutality. They are fighting to protect their identities amid fears that the Hong Kong police force, and the Chinese government that oversees it, will use facial recognition technology to find and arrest protesters. 

Last Saturday, those concerns came to a head when a group of protesters targeted “smart lamps” that the local government says are used to collect data on traffic, weather and air quality. There are about 50 smart lampposts installed around the city, all of which have cameras and sensors, CNN reported

Although the Hong Kong government maintains that the lampposts do not have facial recognition software, demonstrators attempted to tear down and dismantle some of them during a night that turned violent, with police firing tear gas cannisters at protesters. Thirty-two people were arrested for weapons possession, assault of police and unlawful assembly, according to CNN. 

The activists have been vitally concerned about privacy and surveillance since protests in Hong Kong broke out in earnest in June. In the 12 weeks since, many protesters have attempted to thwart facial recognition technology regularly deployed by the Chinese government through homemade masks that obscure their faces if they are caught on camera. 

Their techniques include medical and gas masks paired with goggles, which sometimes are taped over with reflective tape. Umbrellas are used to provide coverage for people who are drawing graffiti or other activities illegal in Hong Kong. 

“People tend to experiment a lot in protest movements,” Gavin Grindon, an academic who curated a 2014 exhibition on objects used in protests, told CNN. “It’s often the simple solution -- the quick solution -- that’s the elegant and effective one.” 

A protester told CNN that she was afraid of being arrested for crimes she did not commit if she was identified on video surveillance footage: “We need to hide ourselves so if we get caught on camera, we’re safe.” 

The protesters are also attempting to hide their digital identities from authorities as well. Most organizing takes place on the app Telegram, which uses encrypted communication, and demonstrators typically use single-way subway tickets and new SIM cards rather than tying those products to their real names, CNN reported. 

In recent weeks, activists have also employed laser pointers to confuse facial recognition software and fry lenses. Hong Kong authorities and opthamologists worry that the lasers could cause permanent damage to the eyes of officers and protesters. 


"Pointing at eyes, the beam can cause permanent blindness; flashing at skin, it can cause burns since the energy is high. When harassing eyes, it can lead to blurry vision for a while," Chow Pak-chin, an ophthalmology specialist told CBC News.




The clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement do not seem to be on the road to de-escalation: police drew guns and used water cannons on Sunday night as activists blocked streets and others threw bricks at officers.


  • 12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    12 Commercial Crime Sites to Do Your Research

    Understanding crime statistics in your industry and area is crucial for making important decisions about your security budget. With so much information out there, how can you know which statistics to trust? Read Now

  • Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    Boosting Safety and Efficiency

    In alignment with the state of Mississippi’s mission of “Empowering Mississippi citizens to stay connected and engaged with their government,” Salient's CompleteView VMS is being installed throughout more than 150 state boards, commissions and agencies in order to ensure safety for thousands of constituents who access state services daily. Read Now

  • Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    Live From GSX: Post-Show Review

    This year’s Live From GSX program was a rousing success! Again, we’d like to thank our partners, and IPVideo, for working with us and letting us broadcast their solutions to the industry. You can follow our Live From GSX 2023 page to keep up with post-show developments and announcements. And if you’re interested in working with us in 2024, please don’t hesitate to ask about our Live From programs for ISC West in March or next year’s GSX. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX
  • People Say the Funniest Things

    People Say the Funniest Things

    By all accounts, GSX version 2023 was completely successful. Apparently, there were plenty of mix-ups with the airlines and getting aircraft from the East Coast into Big D. I am all ears when I am in a gathering of people. You never know when a nugget of information might flip out. Read Now

    • Industry Events
    • GSX

Featured Cybersecurity


New Products

  • ComNet CNGE6FX2TX4PoE

    The ComNet cost-efficient CNGE6FX2TX4PoE is a six-port switch that offers four Gbps TX ports that support the IEEE802.3at standard and provide up to 30 watts of PoE to PDs. It also has a dedicated FX/TX combination port as well as a single FX SFP to act as an additional port or an uplink port, giving the user additional options in managing network traffic. The CNGE6FX2TX4PoE is designed for use in unconditioned environments and typically used in perimeter surveillance. 3

  • Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems V07

    Automatic Systems, an industry-leading manufacturer of pedestrian and vehicle secure entrance control access systems, is pleased to announce the release of its groundbreaking V07 software. The V07 software update is designed specifically to address cybersecurity concerns and will ensure the integrity and confidentiality of Automatic Systems applications. With the new V07 software, updates will be delivered by means of an encrypted file. 3

  • ResponderLink


    Shooter Detection Systems (SDS), an Alarm.com company and a global leader in gunshot detection solutions, has introduced ResponderLink, a groundbreaking new 911 notification service for gunshot events. ResponderLink completes the circle from detection to 911 notification to first responder awareness, giving law enforcement enhanced situational intelligence they urgently need to save lives. Integrating SDS’s proven gunshot detection system with Noonlight’s SendPolice platform, ResponderLink is the first solution to automatically deliver real-time gunshot detection data to 911 call centers and first responders. When shots are detected, the 911 dispatching center, also known as the Public Safety Answering Point or PSAP, is contacted based on the gunfire location, enabling faster initiation of life-saving emergency protocols. 3