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Russian authorities have assigned “state system” status to the country’s uniform biometric database (UBS). The system aims to confirm identity in online banking and primarily consisted of bank clients’ facial images and voice samples. The new status (…
A young man wearing a face mask checks his mobile phone at the State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg, May 26, 2020.
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Israel, Like China, Has Weaponized Surveillance Technology to Suppress Peaceful Dissent

Tech-enabled control of a persecuted population. Abusive facial recognition. Severe restrictions on movement. Branding peaceful dissent as “terrorism”. For many readers, the scenario brings to mind China’s mass human rights violations against…
A display shows surveillance technology capable of analyzing body motion for specific actions like fighting, theft or fall during Security China 2018 in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018.
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Washington Needs to Offer an Alternative

Nearly every week, the international news media reports on the Chinese government’s troubling use of technology to spy on its own citizens and those of other countries. China’s tech giants, Foreign Policy reported late last year, work hand…
Chinese paramilitary police wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus stand guard near the portrait of Chinese leader Mao Zedong on Tiananmen Gate near Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Saturday, January 9, 2021. 
News

If you’re looking for proof that Big Tech never stood a chance against the Chinese Communist Party, here it is.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the country’s regulators to ramp up control on the internet economy in a speech on Monday, spelling more trouble for Chinese tech giants that have already been in the government’s crosshairs for their…
Photo by Pavlo Gonchar / SOPA Images/Sipa USA
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Technical Difficulties - A ChinaFile Conversation

The U.S. and other governments should make decisions about Chinese tech companies based on human rights considerations, including the companies’ impact on the rights of people around the world—not just their own citizens. The Chinese companies…
A logo of a smartphone app TikTok is seen on a user post on a smartphone screen Monday, Sept. 28, 2020, in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
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Once it seemed inevitable that the internet would create a more open society. Now it’s fostering young nationalists.

In May, Wuhan Diary, the Chinese writer Fang Fang’s account of the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, was released in English by HarperCollins. Fang is no radical. She’s the former chairwoman of the Hubei Provincial Writers…
20200asia_china_firewall
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Inside Terminus 2049: The Young Idealists Risking Everything to Beat Chinese Censorship

Readers of online materials from sources in China are often frustrated when they click on an interesting article—only to find it has been deleted by government censors. Sometimes only a few minutes elapse after an article is published before it…
Cai Wei and Chen Mei.
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Andrei Soldatov, interviewed by Human Rights Watch in April, is an investigative journalist, nonfiction writer and a top expert on Russia’s security services. His book “The Red Web,” co-authored with Irina Borogan, tells the story of the Russian internet…
Andrei Soldatov in Moscow
News
Zoom apparently has no qualms about censoring critics in China. In a statement, the company said, “We shut down the meetings instead of blocking the participants by country.” The company apologized for not doing a good job censoring international…
Signage at the headquarters of videoconferencing, remote work, and webinar technology company Zoom (ZM) in the Silicon Valley, San Jose, California, March 28, 2020.
News
On May 29, Russian state media reported that the authorities are considering introducing an app that migrant workers would have to download when they enter the country, once the borders re-open after the COVID-19 lockdown. Little is known about the…
Shadows of people detained by Russian police, suspected of violating immigration rules during an action seen on containers at a street market in Moscow, Russia, August 7, 2013. © AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
News
  We used to worry about Terminator-type artificial intelligence robots dominating the human race, but what we are moving toward is more the opposite: humans are being turned into automatons with little freedom to decide what we do. Across…
A Chinese national flag flutters near surveillance cameras mounted on a lamp post in Beijing, March 15, 2019.
News

Government Response Hinged on Invasive New Surveillance Methods

“I thought the days when humans are ruled by machines and algorithms won’t happen for at least another 50 years. [But] this coronavirus epidemic has suddenly brought it on early,” a blogger on the popular Chinese forum Zhihu wrote. The blogger was…
A security guard monitors people through his augmented reality eyewear equipped with an infrared temperature detector in Hangzhou, China, March 24, 2020.
News

Use of Same Tech in Xinjiang Should Serve as Warning

On October 31, Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov inaugurated a new police command center in the capital city of Bishkek. But this local event had an international human rights dimension: the center will manage a network of cameras equipped…
An airplane trace is seen behind a Kyrgyzstan national flag fluttering in a central square in Bishkek March 11, 2013.
News
Classical totalitarianism, in which the state controls all institutions and most aspects of public life, largely died with the Soviet Union, apart from a few holdouts such as North Korea. The Chinese Communist Party retained a state monopoly in…
A Chinese national flag flutters near surveillance cameras mounted on a lamp post in Beijing, March 15, 2019.
News
Imagine you are stopped at a traffic police checkpoint. A policeman asks for your ID. He then checks his cell phone, and immediately knows many things about you. Not only common public domain information, such as your license plate…
Veja maio 2019
News

Unprecedented View into Mass Surveillance of Xinjiang’s Muslims

Tell me about the IJOP and when we first learned about it? The IJOP is a system of systems. It gathers information from, but not limited to, gas stations, checkpoints on the street, and access-controlled areas such as communities and schools. It pulls…
Images of the IJOP surveillance phone app used in Xinjiang, China.
News
On the surface, it seems that many people from China living in Canada do not shy away from voicing their political opinions. This month, at McMaster University, a Chinese student group issued a statement condemning a Uyghur activist’s speech at the…
China: One Belt, One Road, Lots of Obligations PHOTO
News

The only thing protecting human rights from the bureaucracy? Inefficiency.

Barely a day goes by without a story about China’s ambition to use new technologies for nefarious means, and Human Rights Watch has amassed evidence that President Xi Jinping is building a “digital totalitarian state.” But Beijing’s aspirations to…
A checkpoint in Turpan, Xinjiang. Some of Xinjiang’s checkpoints are equipped with special machines that, in addition to recognizing people through their ID cards or facial recognition, are also vacuuming up people’s identifying information from their
News
As a researcher into China’s mass surveillance systems, I watch the revelations about the murky practices of the data marketing firm Cambridge Analytica and the debates about Facebook’s privacy policies with interest.  In many ways…
A man is pictured at the venue of China International Big Data Industry Expo in Guiyang, Guizhou province May 27, 2017.
News
As part of a new multimillion-dollar project in Xinjiang, the Chinese government is attempting to “build a fortress city with technologies.” If this sounds Orwellian, that’s because it is. According to the Sina online news portal, the…
People check their phones during the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, November 17, 2016.
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