There’s a false Yellow Peril that the populist demagogues used to propagate to spread fear and xenophobia against Asian minorities in the US. That’s the past however, and this is now. The last large scale Communist country on the planet is a peril - not due to the people, but rather due to the over reach of government surveillance through technology. While activists rightly decry the US over reach few are paying attention to the dangers of Chinese tech and apps.
The world is witnessing a massive expansion of Chinese telecommunications reach and influence, powered entirely by users choosing to participate in it. In Usage of the mobile messaging app WeChat (?? Weixin), for example, has skyrocketed not only inside China, but outside, as well. Due to these systems being built upon proprietary protocols and software, their inner workings are largely opaque and mostly insecure. (WeChat has full permission to activate microphones and cameras, track GPS, access user contacts and photos, and copy all of this data at any time to their servers.)
In this talk, Nathan Freitas — Berkman Fellow, director of technology strategy and training at the Tibet Action Institute. and leader of the Guardian Project — questions the risks to privacy and security foreign users engage in when adopting apps from Chinese companies. Do the Chinese companies behind these services have any market incentive or legal obligation to protect the privacy of their non-Chinese global userbase? Do they willingly or automatically turn over all data to the Ministry of Public Security or State Internet Information Office? Will we soon see foreign users targeted or prosecuted due to “private” data shared on WeChat? And is there any fundamental difference in the impact on privacy freedom for an American citizen using WeChat versus a Chinese citizen using WhatsApp or Google?
More info on this event here: cyber.law.harvard.edu