Pyjamas in public: Chinese city apologises for ‘shaming’ residents

Image caption

The image of one pyjama wearer published by the local authority (blurred by the BBC)

Officials in a Chinese city have apologised for “shaming” people for wearing pyjamas in public.Government officials in Suzhou in Anhui province released pictures of seven people wearing their nightwear, calling it “uncivilised behaviour”.The online “shaming” included the pyjama picture – caught by surveillance cameras – plus the person’s name, ID card and other information.China has seen a huge growth in surveillance in recent years.Two years ago, the country had 170 million CCTV cameras, with another 400 million expected by the end of 2020.Many are linked to artificial intelligence – allowing them to recognise exactly who they are filming.
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Media captionIn your face: China’s all-seeing surveillance systemThe pictures in Suzhou were published on Monday by the city’s management bureau.Officials argued they were entering a national “civilised city” competition, and that residents were banned from wearing pyjamas in public.Other “bad behaviour” exposed online included “laying [on a bench] in an uncivilised manner”, and handing out advertising flyers.‘Don’t take my face’: China’s facial-scan lawsuit
Chinese worry about rise of facial recognition
But the pyjama pictures caused anger online. Some argued there was nothing wrong with wearing pyjamas in public – while others said the government had infringed residents’ privacy.Officials later “sincerely apologised”, adding: “We wanted to put an end to uncivilised behaviour, but of course we should protect residents’ privacy.”The officials said they would, in future, blur the pictures instead.Suzhou’s proactive approach is not new. Last year, according to local media, the city asked residents to submit pictures of “uncivilised behaviour”, offering to pay 10 yuan ($1.45; £1.10) for successful tip-offs.

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