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Chinese government Dragnet now folds to US social media platforms to silence dissent

from multinational-surveillance-startup-research-investment-non-consensual department

The Chinese government’s surveillance of unwanted people is not limited to its borders. He’s worked with tech companies to produce an outward-facing surveillance platform to keep an eye out for visiting students and foreign journalists – none of whom could feel particularly compelled to keep the line. party.

The surveillance system targeting journalists, detailed in a Yahoo report from December 2021, is apparently already largely a reality. This New York Times report shows the government is already enforcing its oppression to visitors to the country, in the hope of ensuring that nothing contradicting the official narrative ends up on the Internet.

Jennifier Chen returned to China to visit her hometown for the Lunar New Year. While there, she tweeted from her anonymous account to around 100 followers. These actions succeeded in attracting the attention of the Chinese government’s social media monitoring apparatus.

While living in China, she retweeted news and videos, and occasionally made censored comments on Chinese platforms, such as expressing support for Hong Kong protesters and his solidarity with minorities who have been interned.

It wasn’t much, but it was enough for the authorities to pursue her. Police knocked on his parents’ door during his visit. She said they summoned her to the station, questioned her and then ordered her to delete her posts and Twitter account. They continued to follow her when she went to study abroad, calling her and her mother to ask if Ms. Chen had visited any human rights websites recently..

This is not completely a new idea for China, which has always sought to quell anti-government sentiment no matter where it comes from. But the surveillance system behind this tracking of visitors and strangers is somewhat new, and it uses new techniques to harvest social media content from foreign accounts posted on blocked sites in China. Security forces, including local law enforcement, keep tabs on the internet, combining incriminated social media posts with public records and government databases to identify and track surveillance targets.

Content that is not specifically under government jurisdiction can still cause problems in the home. Anyone associated with the person who offends the government will be the target of efforts to suppress speech.

A video recording, provided by a Chinese student living in Australia, showed how police in her hometown summoned her father, called her on his phone and pushed her to delete his Twitter account.


Three weeks later, they summoned him again. This time, calling her via video chat, they told her to report to the train station on her return to China and asked her how long her Australian visa was valid for. Fearfully, she denied owning the Twitter account, but videotaped the call and maintained the account. A few months later, Twitter suspended him.

This foreign-oriented work begins at home. Documents seen by the New York Times show that law enforcement agencies pay up to $ 1,500 per “investigation” targeting an overseas social network account. Entrepreneurs start with easily accessible social media content before digging into voters lists, driver’s license databases, and any hacked data that can be purchased or obtained from dark web data providers.

The offending content goes through a ranking system that allows the government to determine the person’s level of threat. Criticism from government officials or attempts to organize protests are seen as the greatest threat. Prohibited content such as defamation or pornography is considered the least threatening, although it may also subject people to government harassment. The end result of these surveillance programs manifests itself in visits by law enforcement, not-so-veiled threats to close relatives and, in at least one case, the temporary “disappearance” of parents or siblings. .

Oppression without borders. This is the goal of the Chinese government. Visitors who cannot follow the rules will be encouraged to leave. Residents traveling abroad will be reminded that they can never escape the grip of their home country. A surveillance system that operates without coercion or consent operates without disruption, gaining power and momentum with each new iteration.

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Filed Under: China, dissent, free speech, social media, surveillance

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