Archive | China

Apple, China and human rights

The Chinese government’s crackdown on the internet continues with the news that Apple has removed all major VPN apps, which help internet users overcome the country’s censorship system, from the App Store in China.

Techcrunch: Apple removes VPN apps from the App Store in China »

Tense nervous headache? Perhaps your name is Tim Cook. For poor Tim has woken up this Sunday morning with a giant headache, and its name is China.

Techcrunch: Apple’s capitulation to China’s VPN crack-down will return to haunt it at home »


Meanwhile, in China…

In Xinjiang, China, citizens are being forced to install a targeted surveillance mobile app called Jingwang. Additionally, the government has set up random checkpoints on the streets to check whether the spyware is properly installed on your smartphone. On July 10th, mobile phone users in the region received a notification letting them know that they had 10 days to download and install the Jingwang spyware. Failure to install the app is punishable by up to 10 days imprisonment, according to the notice. According to the government, the spyware app has benign functions.

PI: In Xinjiang, China, police have set up checkpoints to ensure that the government-mandated “Jingwang” spyware is installed


China striking down on VPN-services

China is reinforcing its censorship of the internet with a campaign to crack down on unauthorized connections, including virtual private network (VPN) services, that allow users to bypass restrictions known as the Great Firewall. (…)

The ministry said it was forbidden to create or rent communication channels, including VPNs, without governmental approval, to run cross-border operations.

Reuters: China cracks down on unauthorized internet connections »


“Apple Removes New York Times Apps From Its Store in China”

Apple, complying with what it said was a request from Chinese authorities, removed news apps created by The New York Times from its app store in China late last month.

The move limits access to one of the few remaining channels for readers in mainland China to read The Times without resorting to special software. The government began blocking The Times’s websites in 2012, after a series of articles on the wealth amassed by the family of Wen Jiabao, who was then prime minister, but it had struggled in recent months to prevent readers from using the Chinese-language app.

NYT: Apple Removes New York Times Apps From Its Store in China »


Facebook, China & censorship

A New York Times report that Facebook is developing a system that could censor information to appease the Chinese government is the talk of the tech industry right. The timing couldn’t be worse: domestically, Facebook is under pressure for failing to adequately manage the influence of fake news on the U.S. election, yet here it is seemingly prepared to quash legitimate information on user timelines to kowtow to the Chinese government and further its interests in a country of 1.3 billion people.

Jon Russell @ Techcrunch: Facebook is unlikely to succeed in China, even if it compromises on free speech »


China to tighten control over online content

Radio Free Asia reports…

The ruling Chinese Communist Party has announced new regulations that will ban foreign companies from publishing online media, games and other “creative” content within China’s borders from next month.

The “Regulations for the management of online publishing services” also ban foreign-invested joint ventures from engaging in online content provision, according to a copy of the rules posted on the official website of China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

And any Chinese companies wishing to produce online creative content, including audio, video, games and animations, must first seek official approval from the country’s media regulator.

This is big news — changing the situation in China from bad to worse.

China to Ban Foreign Companies From Online Media Business »


The rise of soft authoritarianism

The mere knowledge of mass surveillance will have a chilling effect on free speech, opposition and an open society. Even if no politician or bureaucrat will say it out loud — this might be a very calculated side effect of modern Big Brotherism.

In UK schools an add-on to its existing Education Pro digital classroom management tool will be used to monitor schoolchildren, bringing the teachers attention to use of “radicalisation keywords”.

“The keywords list, which was developed in collaboration with the Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism organisation that is closely aligned with the government, consists of more than 1,000 trigger terms including “apostate”, “jihadi” and “Islamism”, and accompanying definitions.”

This might flag any pupil working with fully legitime school work as a potential terrorist. The list also includes terms used in a “far right” context and names of groups and individuals defined as “terrorists or extremists”. And, of course, no one will know what words and terms will be on the list in the future. That will be up to tomorrows politicians and bureaucrats to decide. We can only hope that they are fair and decent people. All of them.

“Teachers can also save screenshots or video of a student’s screen which, Impero suggests, could provide “key evidence” to be shared with Channel, the government’s counter-radicalisation programme for young people. The software also features a “confide” function, allowing students to report concerns about classmates anonymously.”

So, British schoolchildren will have to think carefully about what they write in the future. They also must be aware of the fact that other students might act as informants. It is not difficult to see how this will create a climate of fear and uneasiness. (And new forms of bullying.)

Read more: UK: Keyword warning software in schools raises red flag »

And the Chinese have taken soft authoritarianism and informant culture one step further: There your credit score is now affected by your political activities and opinions — and those of your friends. This will apply to everything from your online shopping to your possibility to get a visa for travelling abroad.

This is nightmarish. If you stand up for your ideas, opinions and human rights in China, you will not only put yourself in harms way — but also your friends and your relatives.

This might be a much more effective way to stifle dissent than using classic tools of oppression.

Read more: In China, Your Credit Score Is Now Affected By Your Political Opinions – And Your Friends’ Political Opinions »

The modern orwellian society seems to be turning out to be more orwellian than George Orwell could ever have imagined.