There is no escaping China’s digital dystopian dictatorship. China is employing high-tech methods including an all-seeing surveillance system to track down protestors to their homes. Police are forcing civilians to delete apps and digital content from their electronic devices, and even tracking people with their cellphones, reports Paul Mozur, Claire Fu, and Amy Chang Chien of The New York Times. They write (abridged):
On Sunday, when Mr. Zhang went to protest China’s strict Covid policies in Beijing, he thought he came prepared to go undetected.
He wore a balaclava and goggles to cover his face. When it seemed that plainclothes police officers were following him, he ducked into the bushes and changed into a new jacket. He lost his tail. That night, when Mr. Zhang, who is in his 20s, returned home without being arrested, he thought he was in the clear.
But the police called the next day. They knew he had been out because they were able to detect that his phone had been in the area of the protests, they told him. Twenty minutes later, even though he had not told them where he lived, three officers knocked at his door.
Similar stories are being told by protesters across China this week, according to interviews with those targeted and human rights groups following cases. As the authorities seek to track, intimidate and detain those who marched in defiance of the government’s strict Covid policies last weekend, they are turning to powerful tools of surveillance the state has spent the past decade building for moments like this, when parts of the population turn out and question the authority of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
The police have used faces, phones and informants to identify those who attended protests. Usually they force those they track down to pledge not to protest again. Often inexperienced with being tracked, protesters expressed bafflement at how they were found out. Out of fear of further repercussions, many have deleted foreign apps like Telegram that have been used to coordinate and spread images of the protests overseas.
Read more here.
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