When hundreds of video cameras with the power to identify and track individuals started appearing in the streets of Belgrade, some protesters began having second thoughts about joining anti-government demonstrations in the Serbian capital.
Local authorities assert the system, created by Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, helps reduce crime. Critics contend it erodes personal freedoms and exposes citizens to snooping by the Chinese government.
The cameras, equipped with facial recognition technology, are being rolled out across cities around the world, particularly in poorer countries with weak track records on human rights where Beijing has increased its influence through big business deals. With the United States claiming that Chinese state can get backdoor access to Huawei data, the rollout is raising concerns about the privacy of millions of people.