Last week, 17,000 elementary schoolchildren in the Chinese city Guangzhou got a bizarre gift from the local government: a GPS-enabled smartwatch that tracks their location in what officials are calling a new safety initiative.
The distribution, first reported by the Chinese news outlet Guangzhou Daily, is the first step of a voluntary program to help parents keep track of their kids’ whereabouts. But it’s also, per MIT Technology Review, an extension of China’s ever-growing surveillance state.
Ultimately, Guangzhou officials hope to issue a total of 30,000 kid-tracking watches in addition to a bracelet that can monitor the elderly, per MIT Tech Review.
The wristwatch sends data to parents’ phones, giving them a real-time glimpse into what their kids are up to and whether they might be getting into trouble — though it’s unclear how the program might be ramped up in the future.
READ MORE: China’s government has given location-tracking watches to 17,000 children [MIT Technology Review]
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