China Races Into Cyber Totalitarianism With Tightened Internet Rules: Experts

By Mary Hong
Mary Hong
Mary Hong
Mary Hong has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2020. She has reported on Chinese human rights issues and politics.
July 26, 2022 Updated: July 26, 2022

China’s cyber watchdog issued new rules on internet users and outbound data transfers that become effective in August and September respectively. Experts believe the regime’s racing into the age of digital surveillance will only facilitate the collapse of its economy.

The new regulations refine the regime’s firm grip on personal data and livelihood, and the operations of private enterprises.

Analysts warned that while the new rules will enforce further self-censorship of foreign enterprises, they also facilitate businesses leaving China, and ultimately, the collapse of the Chinese economy.

Tight Control of Personal Data

Recently, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) successively introduced “Provisions on the Management of Internet Users’ Account Information,” effective on Aug. 1, and “Measures for the Security Assessment of Outbound Data Transfer,” effective on Sept. 1.

Beijing’s latest regulations acquire full disclosure and certification of personal information for internet users during registration, and clearance of data export via the governmental agencies, reportedly for the sake of national interest and security.

Cyber security analyst Jiu Jushui told the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times that the so-called rules are just a tactic to endorse violence and privacy invasion in the name of national security.

Global Trend of Mass Surveillance

Xiaogang Zhang, an IT expert in Australia, said, “Big data has become a strategic resource; it serves the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by transforming control of society to the web.”

A publication by Pew Research in 2020 predicted that “by 2030, as much of 75 percent of the world’s population will be enslaved by artificial intelligence-based surveillance systems developed in China and exported around the world.”

Borrowing the title of the 2019 book by author Shoshana Zuboff, “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism,” economist Klaus Solberg Söilen once indicated that mass surveillance is now a global trend. He wrote, “In the West the suppressors are mostly private monopolies (e.g. Google, Facebook), while in the East it is primarily the government that is snooping (e.g. China’s Social Credit System).”

Epoch Times Photo
A screen shows visitors being recorded by AI security cameras with facial recognition technology at the 14th China International Exhibition on Public Safety and Security at the China International Exhibition Center in Beijing on Oct. 24, 2018. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images)

The Red Power’s Fear

China affairs specialist Tang Jingyuan said the internet user’s provision puts all Chinese internet users into the walls of its surveillance, like a prison. Netizens no longer enjoy freedom of speech or personal privacy.

However, what lies behind the rule is the CCP’s fear.

“The massive data harbors the massive reality of Chinese society—one that the CCP has been hiding,” Tang said, that’s what threatens the CCP.

Tightened Self-censorship

Regarding the regulation on outbound data transfer, Tang explained that Beijing set a low threshold for data handlers to submit assessment applications.

For instance, data handlers with cumulative personal information of more than 100,000 people or the sensitive personal information of more than 10,000 people should apply for the security assessment.

The regulation also requires all outbound transfers of important data to seek assessment by the government agency.

Tang explained that the policy will force multinational companies to adjust their IT platforms and internal organizational structures. Companies may be forced to comply with self-censorship to save themselves the trouble, and to ultimately  localize inside China.

This would amount to unfair competition, and conflict in the free flow of data for multinational corporations. It may force foreign companies to leave China, Tang said.

Regarding total control through cybersecurity, Zhang said, “It will only speed up the collapse of the already failing Chinese economy, like in Mao’s era.”

Chang Chun, Li Xin’an and Luo Ya contributed to this report.

Mary Hong
Mary Hong has contributed to The Epoch Times since 2020. She has reported on Chinese human rights issues and politics.