Inside China’s unexpected quest to protect data privacy

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  • Inside China’s unexpected quest to protect data privacy | MIT Technology Review
    https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/08/19/1006441/china-data-privacy-hong-yanqing-gdpr/?truid=a497ecb44646822921c70e7e051f7f1a

    In the West, it’s widely believed that neither the Chinese government nor Chinese people care about privacy. US tech giants wield this supposed indifference to argue that onerous privacy laws would put them at a competitive disadvantage to Chinese firms.

    In reality, this picture of Chinese attitudes to privacy is out of date. Over the last few years the Chinese government, seeking to strengthen consumers’ trust and participation in the digital economy, has begun to implement privacy protections that in many respects resemble those in America and Europe today.

    Even as the government has strengthened consumer privacy, however, it has ramped up state surveillance. It uses DNA samples and other biometrics, like face and fingerprint recognition, to monitor citizens throughout the country.

    It has tightened internet censorship and developed a “social credit” system, which punishes behaviors the authorities say weaken social stability. During the pandemic, it deployed a system of “health code” apps to dictate who could travel, based on their risk of carrying the coronavirus. And it has used a slew of invasive surveillance technologies in its harsh repression of Muslim Uighurs in the northwestern region of Xinjiang.

    This paradox has become a defining feature of China’s emerging data privacy regime. It raises a question: Can a system endure with strong protections for consumer privacy, but almost none against government snooping? The answer doesn’t affect only China. Its technology companies have an increasingly global footprint, and regulators around the world are watching its policy decisions.

    #Chine #Vie_privée #Surveillance