søndag 11. juli 2021

Data, not arms, the key driver in emerging US-China cold war

This week, shares in China’s giant ride-hailing app Didi crashed by more than 20%. A few days before, Didi had raised $4.4bn in amassive IPO in New York – the biggest initial public offering by a Chinese company since Alibaba’s debut in 2014.

The proximate cause of Didi’s crash was an announcement by China’s Cyberspace Administration that it suspected Didi of illegally collecting and using personal information. Pending an investigation, it had ordered Didi to stop registering new users and removed Didi’s app from China’s app stores. China’s state-owned Global Times noted in an editorial Monday that Didi has the “most detailed personal travel information” of users among all large technology firms, and that the company posed a potential risk for individuals because it could conduct big data analysis of users’ habits and behavior.

But since when does Beijing worry about the privacy of Chinese citizens? China’s government does everything in its power to spy on them. More likely, the massive IPO in New York sparked anxiety in Beijing that the United States might gain access to huge amounts of personal information about where Chinese people live, work and travel – data that might threaten China’s national security.