How China’s Peculiar Cybersecurity Practices Impact Local Citizens

The internet has supposedly empowered people with a sense of freedom and better accessibility to information. However, there are some regions in the world that do not favor internet freedom. In fact, these countries rather prefer controlled internet availability to the public. One such nation is China. The country is known for its strict internet policies. It not only has devised tough privacy laws but has also applied various measures to keep their citizens segregated from the outside world.

For all those looking for an article to dig more about online security and internet policies in China, here we present an overview.

Governing Internet And Public Opinion

While the internet was supposedly believed to bring democratization to the world, in China, results have been quite odd. Instead of using this media for facilitating the public, they started using it as a governance tool. The government even use the internet to solicit public reaction, respond to the concerns, and mold public opinion.

Named as ‘authoritarian deliberation’, the Chinese officials perform these actions through various local (and official) platforms. For instance, the Chinese authorities use Weibo – the official Chinese Twitter, to interact with the public. In fact, not only use these platforms to interact with the public, but rather they also use them to monitor and mold public opinion.

According to stats, roughly 800 businesses are dedicated to facilitating the government in monitoring public discussions. They study public discussions, particularly those touching sensitive topics or societal conflicts, and forward them to the concerned officials for addressing. Roughly, more than two million public opinion analysts are now working on this job.

This practice does not indicate transparent monitoring. Rather they also influence public views by meddling with the online content. This includes deleting conflicting comments or leaving some issues unaddressed.

Content Restriction And Censorship

Although, internet censorship is quite normal for most Western countries as well. Still, the internet governance practices of China certainly raise concern on the overall concept of internet freedom. China has adopted a clear-cut policy for banning external content and promoting indigenous things.

They simply compel their people to use these platforms by making them alternative to the international ones and banning the latter. For instance, you cannot find Google or Facebook in China. Rather they have launched Weibo – a Chinese Twitter version. Likewise, WeChat – a messaging platform started off in China, has now grown to an extent that the people from other parts of the world are also becoming familiar to it.

Alongside compelling the people to use indigenous social platforms, China has also made it compulsory for the people to use their registered names as usernames. This decision is made in the light of their Counterterrorism Law 2015. They have also restricted the people from open discussions on topics that threaten their national security. This is done by providing a list of forbidden topics to internet service providers.

China’s internet censorship not only applies to social networking platforms, but also to the general internet content. This restriction applies to such wider extent that the country does not even allow the use of VPNs. Hence, bypassing the ‘Great Firewall of China’ is nearly impossible.

Besides, their policies also include other far-right steps, such as weeding out negative elements online, imprisoning the violators (regardless of how popular they are), and providing detailed censorship instructions to online new editors and journalists.

Impact Of China’s Policies On Global Cybersecurity Laws

With a majority of nations around the world advocating for internet freedom, it is strange and alarming to see China cybersecurity policies getting increasingly harder day by day. Although, the matter seems entirely private to China. Nonetheless, the ratio with which the other countries having similar perspectives of internet control are taking inspiration from China is dangerous. Not only it will create chaos globally, but will also cause unrest among the masses. Besides, such practices will also make it difficult for the world to have a generalised global internet control regulation.

Apart from the political effects, such restricted practices also threaten the business community. The tech giants like Apple, Facebook, or Google, cannot step into the country unless they design specialized policies that comply with Chinese regulations. Such biases will make it difficult for the firms to provide the same services to their customerbase globally, or to ensure data security in general.

Even if the firms manage to fulfil China’s requirements, it will be a threat to the U.S. if more US-based tech giants modify their regulations under the influence of China. Considering the recent events of Google announcement of re-entry into China, and Apple appreciation towards China’s privacy policies, It is high time for the United States to look into the matter, and adopt a preemptive approach towards China’s regulations to safeguard the diminishing internet freedom.