One Big Thing: Would you be okay if TikTok and other Chinese owned Apps were banned due to invasion of your privacy?
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What is it?
- On July 21, 2020 the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations released a report which accuses China of “digital authoritarianism” by using its technological rise to conduct surveillance and censor information around the world.
- The report considers a ban on Chinese-developed software including the TikTok app which has come under much public scrutiny in recent months. There have also been allegations of facial recognition software and other surveillance technology embedded within these apps.
- The Chinese government has also used city-wide surveillance systems to oppress Uighurs in Xinjiang and encroach on the freedom and privacy of Tibetans. On top of this, the Chinese Communist Party has conducted surveillance and digitally threatened Uighurs living outside of China who are willing to speak out.
Why is it important?
- China has been known to censor the internet but it now has a method of easily exporting this technology to other authoritarian regimes around the world. Because it primarily uses cell phones, it can also be easily distributed to the masses and can be used to target youth populations.
- China has used its newfound place as a one of the global tech leaders to create a new model of governance over the internet and digital communication. It has also focused on exporting its technology around the world, including Venezuela, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe and others.
- China’s influence around the world varies. Some countries like South Africa have embraced Chinese technology while others like Great Britain have rejected it completely. Inside China, foreign tech is almost universally banned including sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter.
What can you do?
- Check out recommendation for countering China’s global influence from the McCain Institute’s Democracy and Human Rights working group
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