When the first digital monitors were installed at Pristina bus stations in August 2020, there was no urban transport schedule displayed. The Chinese company, which had manufactured these monitors, was airing its own ads until the bus route was installed or local advertisements started to feature on them. Only the MIPS brand and some Chinese characters appeared on these large screens with a black background.
Citizens were satisfied in general. They would finally be able to see on the screens when the bus that sends them to the right destination will arrive. However, these monitors also have cameras installed. On the page where the description of this type of camera is presented, among other specifications one can investigate the fact that this Chinese camera from MIPS has the face detecting capability.
Information technology experts express their concern over the privacy of citizens and the violation of laws them protect them. Cyber security expert, Dion Mulaj, in a statement to The Geopost, said the instalment of these devices in Kosovo is worrying. “Chinese technology is extremely dangerous, not only on the individual basis, but also on the national one, and such technologies should be banned for implementation in the Republic of Kosovo,” said Mulaj.
AMERICAN CONCERN ABOUT MIPS
In recent years Chinese companies have increased their investment in technology to increase economic power and consequently influence. The Chinese plan to dominate the market in the field of technology by 2025 is seen as disturbing in various documents of the United States of America (USA). Washington has cited the 2025 program as a reason for taking national security measures that ban China from accessing US technology. “In policy documents such as Made in China 2025, China has articulated the target list of technology sectors it seeks to dominate.
Most of the recent Chinese investment behavior appears to be in line with this target list,” said a White House Office of Trade and Production Policy document, dated June 2018.
Despite of the US government efforts to block the MIPS sale, the pioneer of RISC processors overseas, the core technology has been licensed and is now controlled by a Shanghai-based company. In 2017 MIPS was acquired by Tallwood Ventures to retain the technology in the US, as part of the terms set for the sale of the Imagination owner to the Canyon Bridge equity fund. Ownership of MIPS technology is then shifted several times before finally being assigned to CIP United Co. Ltd ”, registered in Shanghai, China. The fact that companies from offshore countries, known as tax havens, were involved in the complex series of transfer of ownership, this operation was even called a theft of intellectual property by China.
Thus, the pioneer of Silicon Valley MIPS chips is now almost a Chinese company. According to the portal Techradar.com, China now uses this microchip technology for the production of Huawei mobile phones.
This company (MIPS), whose devices are located in various locations in the Kosovo capital, is part of the Chinese plan for 2025 and contributes maximally to meeting the goals of China.
Expert Mulaj said that it is worrying why these devices have cameras. But, he stressed that “the most worrying is the fact that so far I have not seen or do not know that the Municipality of Pristina has published any document that clarifies the origin and system of this advertising device.”
Meanwhile, an investor presentation in 2019, reported by Reuters, shows how the Chinese state-owned company CIP intended to use MIPS to help China catch up with the United States in advanced semiconductor technology, which is key to everything – from smartphones to sophisticated weapons. “The MIPS license promises to provide essential technology that will help China realize the ambitious goal of Made in China 2025,” the presentation said, referring to a government program to achieve self-sufficiency in strategic industries.
Information and privacy agencies emphasize that video surveillance, which identifies individuals, is not allowed to be installed in any institution or place.
“It needs to be clarified how these devices store advertising images and whether they store images or recordings from the camera – so whether they are stored locally on the device or in a cloud service,” said Mulaj.
According to him, Chinese technology is extremely dangerous not only on an individual basis, but also on a national one. “Given that the Republic of Kosovo has a pro-Western orientation, countries like China try to increase the influence for information through various techniques.
“So, since the whole modern war is the war of information, in my opinion, such technologies should be stopped for implementation in our Republic “, said the expert Mulaj.
The Geopost has not yet managed to provide official information on the origin of this technology. Although our editorial office has sent some questions on this topic to the Kosovo Customs, until the publication of this article it has not received any response.
THE TOTALITARIAN DIGITAL STATE MODEL
In recent years China is estimated to have increased its ability to spy on its 1.4 billion citizens to new and disturbing levels, giving the world a plan on how to build a totalitarian digital state. Chinese authorities through face recognition cameras collect sensitive information not only in China but also in other countries where they have access to modern technological systems. The data collected by the cameras is then combined with other data thus displaying the desired information.
The Balkan service of Radio Free Europe reported days ago that Kosovo is also endangered by Chinese surveillance technology, which is being installed with funding from Belgrade in some regions out of Kosovo government control. According to REL, a Serbian-majority interim authority in southeastern Kosovo signed an agreement last month to buy tens of thousands of euros worth of small surveillance cameras, digital recorders and other equipment from Zhejiang Dahua Technologies. This company is on the US blacklist due to illegal monitoring.
The administration of US President Joe Biden recently imposed trade restrictions on more than 30 Chinese research institutes and entities. The cause was human rights abuses and the alleged development of technologies, such as mind control weapons, that undermine U.S. national security. According to a statement in the Federal Register, the Commerce Department accused the Chinese Academy of Military Medical Sciences and its 11 research institutes of using biotechnology to “achieve Chinese military goals through the use of alleged weapons to control the brain.”