Category: China

Unspoken and Accepted

A Look Inside China’s Surveillance State

By Charles McDermid

Last of two reports.

Digital Privacy News writer Charles McDermid arrived in China as a child in 1979. He has lived and worked as a journalist in Beijing, Hong Kong and Tianjin. No names are used to protect sources.

Any attempt to summarize the privacy concerns of China’s nearly 1.4 billion people, let alone marginalized groups like the Uighur Muslims or other minorities, would be impossible — particularly amid the intense data-collection methods that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But by speaking to friends and former colleagues inside China, a rough sketch emerges of the daily mindset of some Chinese citizens and foreign expatriates who live in what Beijing’s critics have called a techno-authoritarian surveillance state.

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Is China Exporting ‘Surveillance Creep’ Throughout the World? Experts Weigh In

By Charles McDermid

First of two parts.

Concern has intensified in recent weeks over the global expansion of China’s so-called techno-authoritarianism, with Western media and the U.S. government warning that Beijing already is exporting its surveillance tactics around the world.

Critics of China’s data-collection policies have plenty of ammunition, from the use of new technology to spy on Uighurs and other Muslim minorities to the ambitious plan to develop a genetic map of 700 million Chinese men and boys. 

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Is Privacy Losing in US-China Fight for Control Over Data?

By Charles McDermid

Influence on global data-security standards has emerged as yet another Big Power battleground, with the United States and China promoting rival campaigns that are heavy on geopolitical posturing — but light on details about laws, enforcement and effect. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August unveiled the “Clean Network” program to safeguard “sensitive information from aggressive intrusions by malign actors, such as the Chinese Communist Party.”

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‘Trusted Technology Partner’?

Privacy Experts Alarmed at Oracle’s Role in Proposed TikTok Deal

By Charles McDermid

The impact of the White House’s decision to ban TikTok and WeChat that began Sunday remained unclear, but global privacy experts were alarmed that Oracle Corp. could still become the “trusted technology partner” of the Chinese owner of the two widely popular apps.

They told Digital Privacy News that the possible deal marked the start of a global era of data localization, as nations scrambled to keep citizens’ personal data within their own borders. 

“It’s easier for a government to request data stored on its territory, provided that its laws authorize it,” said Emmanuel Pernot-Leplay, a researcher in data-protection law at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. “It’s much more difficult when it has to make a request for such data when they are stored abroad.

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