China's Surveillance State

Josh Chin, Liza Lin, Eva Dou, Clément Bürge, Wenxin Fan, Natasha Khan, Dan Strumpf, Charles Rollet, Jeremy Page, Elliot Bentley, Jenny O’Grady, Tyler Paige and Giulia Marchi

A harrowing series of articles in The Wall Street Journal scrutinized China’s “Surveillance State” as the autocratic nation, unfettered by privacy concerns or public debate, rushes to deploy digital technology to spy on its citizens and scoop up unprecedented data about their daily lives. One article revealed the widespread use of facial-recognition technology inside the country, noting that what was once a specter of dystopian science fiction is now an omnipresent feature employed on streets, airports and border crossings to identify and squelch threats to social stability. Software monitored by human censors combs through billions of messages sent daily over WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform, and stern punishments are doled out to those who dare to post objectionable content. Another article stated that China’s biggest tech companies, including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu, are in cahoots with Beijing, openly acting as the government’s eyes and ears in cyberspace, and required by the government to help hunt down criminal suspects and silence political dissent. Meanwhile, the country is building the world’s biggest DNA database, which Journal reporters characterized as “an essential part of China’s high-tech security blanket,” as Beijing develops an all-encompassing digital totalitarian state to monitor its 1.4 billion citizens.

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