China is preparing a surveillance network with an area bigger than New York City—and Cisco is among the Western companies set to help. China says the system of up to 500,000 cameras is aimed at preventing crime, but human rights advocates fear it could be used to stamp out political dissent, the Wall Street Journal reports. Under construction for the next few years in the city of Chongqing, the project is due to stretch across 400 square miles.
Cisco is reportedly nearing a deal to sell China networking devices central to the “Peaceful Chongqing” project, insiders say. Since the Tiananmen Square protests, the US has banned the sale of equipment to China that is specifically anti-crime, such as fingerprinting gear, notes the Journal. But cameras and other devices are still fair game. Cisco, the top networking equipment manufacturer in the world, says it “hasn't sold video cameras or video-surveillance solutions in any of our public infrastructure projects in China.”