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Cities worldwide spent over $3 billion last year to peep on you

That figure will continue to rise. The market for city surveillance equipment is predicted to grow 14.6 percent on average every year through 2021.

A security official sits in front of a bank of 12 camera monitors

The market for surveillance equipment for cities is growing. 

Alexander Ryumin/Getty Images

The world market for security equipment in city surveillance surged past $3 billion last year and won't be slowing down anytime soon, a research report by IHS Markit said Wednesday. 

State capitals and major cities have been spurring rapid development of the surveillance market in recent years, mostly to help police forces maintain public safety and reduce crime, the researcher said. Demand has surged for video content analysis, like facial recognition, as well as for things like body-worn cameras and services for police officers. 

IHS Markit estimated the city surveillance market will grow at an average annual rate of 14.6 percent from 2016 to 2021.

China is the biggest market for security equipment in city surveillance, taking up a two-thirds share. It will also be the first country to widely use facial recognition in city surveillance projects, according to the researcher. For example, more than 10,000 smart cameras are expected to roll out in the city of Shenzhen this year.

The report comes at a time of heightened anxiety about personal privacy as technology expands its influence over our lives. Most recently, Facebook has been the target of a public outcry over its treatment of user data, following reports that its lax policies allowed Cambridge Analytica, a digital consultancy hired by the Trump presidential campaign, to mine personal details from tens of millions of Facebook users without their permission.