Big Brother in Ecuador?

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

By: Daniel Nardini

The Ecuadoran government has been using a new surveillance system in the country since 2016 to keep watch on criminals. The system, called the ECU911 Integrated Security System, was provided to the Ecuadoran government by the People’s Republic of China. In China, the system is used to watch over dissidents and keep political and religious control over its people. The Ecuadoran government is using it to track criminal activity and catch those who are breaking the law. While such a system may be needed to help the Ecuadoran government fight the country’s high crime rate, could it not also be used to track people who may be in political opposition to the government? I should explain that the system tracks people using facial recognition technology, camera surveillance technology, and even mobile phone location technology.

This system has been introduced for use not only for the police but also emergency services and the armed forces. This system is thoroughly integrated throughout the entire government communications network, and has helped make vast improvements in Ecuador’s ability to fight crime and improve its emergency and rescue operations. Since the system was installed, Ecuador has gone from being the 11th safest country in South America to the 4th safest country. The system has helped solve thousands of former criminal cases and has saved thousands of lives that might have been lost in search and rescue operations. But there are two major problems with the ECU911 Integrated Security System. First, it is China’s way of getting into Ecuador and other countries in South America to build economic dominant relationships. Already China is Ecuador’s biggest customer for its oil, and the Chinese government is trying to gain further access to Ecuador’s economy. Second, the real problem is with the ECU911 Integrated Security System itself. Are there any laws and any infrastructure in place to prevent this security system from being used against political dissidents as well as opposition parties and organizations? Are there any laws in place to prevent the government from spying on its own citizens? Do the courts have any power to limit the scope of how the ECU911 Integrated Security System is used? There are too many questions and no real answers of how this could go from being a system to fight crime to one of government big brother.

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