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Leading up to the China Day festivities, authorities across China are rolling out major expansions to surveillance cameras that are already quite prevalent. One local paper reported that the city of Beijing is effectively 100 percent covered in surveillance cameras. Other reports have come back with similar findings, with 13 million cameras reportedly installed just in 2011 alone.
These public cameras are simply one part of the government's massive surveillance infrastructure. Chinese authorities monitor and censor virtually all web traffic in the country. To help with this, there are an estimated 2 million people working as internet monitors for the government. Journalists, bloggers, and dissidents are regularly arrested and put in prison simply for their online history. Phone calls are also heavily monitored and can be disconnected if someone says a prohibited word or phrase, like "protest." Finally, Chinese government officials are rolling out a "social credit score" system that tracks not only your online activity, but that of your family and friends as well. A poor score can affect bank loan applications, employment eligibility, and more.
It will be interesting to see the ongoing reaction to China's surveillance programs. Let us know what you think: did you know China had such aggressive surveillance?
China Tightens Censorship of Electronic Communications (nytimes.com)
"If anyone wonders whether the Chinese government has tightened its grip on electronic communications since protests began engulfing the Arab world, Shakespeare may prove instructive."
In China, Beware: A Camera May Be Watching You (npr.org)
"China is becoming a surveillance state. In recent years, the government has installed more than 20 million cameras across a country where a decade ago there weren't many."
ACLU: Orwellian Citizen Score, China's credit score system, is a warning for Americans (computerworld.com)
"Gamer? Strike. Bad-mouthed the government in comments on social media? Strike."
China 'employs 2 million to police internet' (cnn.com)
"China has around two million people policing public opinion online, according to a state media report that sheds light on the country's secretive internet surveillance operations."