torsdag 2. mai 2019

Will China Export its Illiberal Innovation?

In 2009, after internet-fueled race riots between Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese in China’s northeast territory of Xinjiang, the ruling Communist Party took drastic action: the digital kill switch. Beijing disabled Xinjiang’s internet, sending military police to restore order. The blackout lasted nearly a year. Now, a decade later, Xinjiang is writhing under a new clampdown aimed at the Uighurs. This time, Beijing has embraced the opposite philosophy: a digital panopticon, enlisting private tech firms to expand China’s internet of things and enmesh its own people.

The technologies being honed in Xinjiang, driven by this kind of illiberal innovation, may be coming soon to an app store near you. These exports risk enabling aspiring autocrats worldwide, and may concentrate alarming power in the hands of China’s Communist Party.