Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 1st Feb 2018 19:29 UTC
Internet & Networking

China's most popular messaging app, WeChat, has always had a close relationship with the Chinese government. The app has been subsidized by the government since its creation in 2011, and it's an accepted reality that officials censor and monitor users. Now, WeChat is poised to take on an even greater role: an initiative is underway to integrate WeChat with China's electronic ID system.

WeChat is a remarkably clever move by the Chinese government. Everybody over there is already using it, and by basically co-opting it, they get a free statewide monitoring and control platform. Ban a few western alternatives here and there, and you're done. Western nations are toying with similar ideas - see e.g. Germany's new laws - and it doesn't take a genius to see the dangers here. While you may 'trust' your current government to not abuse such wide-ranging laws and technical capabilities, you might not be so eager with the next one. If Americans can vote for a Trump, Europeans can, too.

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RE[3]: Choose your poison
by Tony Swash on Fri 2nd Feb 2018 10:38 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Choose your poison"
Tony Swash
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Okay, China plans to monitor and rate their citizens. All very 1984 but how is this a lesson or warning for the readers of OSnews who all seem to come from liberal western democracies? What happens in China or North Korea or the old Soviet Republic are not lessons for us. They did not get to where they are through a corruption of a previously wholesome democracy.

I don't live in any of these places so I have no idea whether the control or surveillance exhibited by the state improves or worsens the lives of the people (if indeed the state even cares to about this) in those countries. I do know that overturning dictatorships in the name of democracy does lead to severe suffering (at least in the short term) in countries whose mere survival is tenuous and relies upon the rule of a dictator just to hold them together.

To suggest enacting laws which ban hate speech in Western countries amounts to the suppression of the right to free speech which will then in turn lead every civilized western democracy down an inexorable path to hegemony seems about a gazillion steps too far.

I agree. China is not a liberal democracy and it is far too easy to draw unwarranted parallels and as a result get hysterically anxious about authoritarianism or state snooping in the old democracies. There are a lot of issues to unpick here. For example:

- generally the processes of democratic governance has declined in the old democracies, party support has fragmented, voter participation has declined and in Europe we have built a fairly powerful tier of governance (the EU) which is not democratic. How this will pan out long term is not yet clear.

- The rise of of social media does change cultural and political discourse in ways that are still not clear and how society might best regulate the new media is still not clear

- China will not continue to grow in the future like it has in the recent past and in fact the trajectory for the Chinese economy is much more likely to be like the trajectory of Japan which before the 1990s was believed destined to become the largest in the world but which then suffered a debt crisis followed by decades of relative stagnation (see the excellent analytical work on the Chinese economy and ‘growth miracles’ by Proff. Michael Pettis)

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