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Rolling Stone: "China's All-Seeing Eye"

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WaylonJennings, May 20, 2008.

  1. I was not familiar with the work of Naomi Klein before this piece, but it may be the most intriguing and important piece of journalism produced in the United States this year (with apologies to Chris Jones and his Memento-ish "Esquire" piece on the fallen U.S. soldier).

    The basics: China is constructing a round-the-clock surveillance state, ostensibly to curtail crime, but clearly also to monitor political dissidents. And U.S. companies, often using tax payer money (provided via U.S. government defense contracts and grants) is supplying the technology. Apparently this should be in violation of legislature passed post-Tianenmenn Square. Ah, but the catch: The 1989 legislation didn't specifically mention biometric recognition technology, because it didn't exist back then.

    Hopefully, Congress or the SCOTUS can close the loophole, though the RS piece didn't mention that possibility.

    This is long, but try to find the time. Beyond the politics, it is what journalism can and should be when we commit to doing it correctly:

  2. goalmouth

    goalmouth Well-Known Member

    Waylon, just wanted to say you were great on CMT last night.
  3. Boomer7

    Boomer7 Active Member

    "Frontline" touched on this issue a couple of years ago in a documentary about China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Apparently, American Internet companies are bending backward to appease the Chinese government, helping it to censor the Web in that country.

  4. Yep, that was in there, too.

    China. What a fascinating place.
  5. Boomer7

    Boomer7 Active Member

    Excellent article.

    Money quote:
    Empowered by the Patriot Act, many of the big dreams hatched by men like Atick have already been put into practice at home. New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., are all experimenting with linking surveillance cameras into a single citywide network. Police use of surveillance cameras at peaceful demonstrations is now routine, and the images collected can be mined for "face prints," then cross-checked with ever-expanding photo databases. Although Total Information Awareness was scrapped after the plans became public, large pieces of the project continue, with private data-mining companies collecting unprecedented amounts of information about everything from Web browsing to car rentals, and selling it to the government.

    Such efforts have provided China's rulers with something even more valuable than surveillance technology from Western democracies: the ability to claim that they are just like us. Liu Zhengrong, a senior official dealing with China's Internet policy, has defended Golden Shield and other repressive measures by invoking the Patriot Act and the FBI's massive e-mail-mining operations. "It is clear that any country's legal authorities closely monitor the spread of illegal information," he said. "We have noted that the U.S. is doing a good job on this front." Lin Jiang Huai, the head of China Information Security Technology, credits America for giving him the idea to sell biometric IDs and other surveillance tools to the Chinese police. "Bush helped me get my vision," he has said. Similarly, when challenged on the fact that dome cameras are appearing three to a block in Shenzhen and Guangzhou, Chinese companies respond that their model is not the East German Stasi but modern-day London.
  6. Beaker

    Beaker Active Member

    Fantastic piece. Pretty scary stuff really. My eyes also jumped at that graph, Boomer.

    It's shameful how compliant American corporations have been.
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