Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Your Rights Online

China's All-Seeing Eye 358

Posted by kdawson
from the market-stalinism dept.
krou writes "Naomi Klein writes in Rolling Stone Magazine about China's Panopticon-like experiment called 'Golden Shield' taking place in Shenzhen using technology supplied by companies such as IBM, Honeywell, and General Electric. Klein writes: 'Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country's notorious system of online controls known as the "Great Firewall." Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and photos that are instantly uploaded to police databases and linked to their holder's personal data.' According to Klein, this is more than just a Chinese experiment, it's also one that holds ramifications for America and elsewhere: '...the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state... The global corporations currently earning superprofits from this social experiment are unlikely to be content if the lucrative new market remains confined to cities such as Shenzhen. Like everything else assembled in China with American parts, Police State 2.0 is ready for export to a neighborhood near you.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

China's All-Seeing Eye

Comments Filter:
  • uh oh (Score:5, Funny)

    by the brown guy (1235418) on Monday June 02, 2008 @12:52AM (#23623243) Journal
    Anonymous Coward? Not for long...
  • by coolsnowmen (695297) on Monday June 02, 2008 @12:53AM (#23623247)
    "using technology supplied by companies such as IBM, Honeywell, and General Electric."

    IBM making money at the expense of morality; nothing new here.

    http://www.ibmandtheholocaust.com/articles/auschwitz.html [ibmandtheholocaust.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by upside (574799)
      On this vein, there is nothing communist about China anymore, it's a National Socialist system. Just like with the NSDAP (Nazi party), the "socialism" is there only in name.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by m0n5t3r (1154605)

        On this vein, there is nothing communist about China anymore, it's a National Socialist system. Just like with the NSDAP (Nazi party), the "socialism" is there only in name.
        actually, some people think that they are not that different [mises.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by codeButcher (223668)

      I think what the original submitter tried to insinuate is that *American* companies (you know, the land of the free, defender of democracy, etc. etc.) would participate in such "oppressive" schemes. But America has become a lot less free post-9/11, as I assume most would agree, and is moving into the same direction (courtesy of tech probably even supplied by the same companies).

      What disturbs me is that many other countries are implementing similar Big-Brotherish measures than America is. Since some of them

  • 1984 Quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EEPROMS (889169) on Monday June 02, 2008 @12:58AM (#23623279)
    "And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed--if all records told the same tale--then the lie passed into history and became truth. 'Who controls the past' ran the Party slogan, 'controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'"
    • by EEPROMS (889169)
      Sorry a bit got cut off

      who controls the present controls the past - Page 32
    • 1982 Quote (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:25AM (#23623425)
      Up here in space / I'm looking down on you,
      My lasers trace / everything you do,
      You think you've private lives / think nothing of the kind,
      There is no true escape / I'm watching all the time!

      CHORUS:
      I'm made of metal, my circuits gleam
      I am perpetual, I keep the country clean.
      I'm elected, electric spy,
      I'm protected, electric eye.

      Always in focus / you can't feel my stare,
      I zoom into you / you dont know I'm there.
      I take a pride in probing / all your secret moves,
      My tearless retina takes / pictures that can prove...

      (Chorus)

      Electric eye (in the sky)
      Feel my stare (always there)
      There's nothing you can do about it, develop and expose,
      I feed upon your every thought, and so my power grows!

      (Chorus)

      I'm Elected -
      Protected -
      Detective -
      Electric -
      Eye.

      - Judas Priest, Electric Eye, 1982.

      Orwell's 1984 isn't the only functional specification out there, after all.

      Germany was the proof-of-concept. Stalin's Russia and the Cold War Warsaw Pact countries were the alpha, which failed due to scaling concerns. China is the beta test site and release-candidate. Unistat goes live in 2009.

  • by niktemadur (793971) on Monday June 02, 2008 @12:58AM (#23623283)
    Fortunately, somebody had the vision to warn us about this sort of thing, sixty years ago. I'm willing to bet that in China, a land where the government censors almost everything in sight, Orwell is banned.

    BTW, has 1984 ever been translated into Mandarin? If so, whoever did it, that person should have a statue erected in every Chinatown in the western world, just like Dr Sun Yat-Sen eventually in Shanghai and Beijing.
    • Oops, missed a comma between "Dr Sun Yat-Sen" and "eventually".
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:47AM (#23623859)
      okay, i am from china.

      i think many slashdotters have an incomplete information about the current status of internet freedom in china. i saw many threads on great firewall in slashdot. but hardly any discussion on the free speech on china's internet. presumably, i think, nobody reads chinese internet forum.

      if you look at some largest internet forums: tianyaclub.com, netease.com, sina.com. you will be very surprised to find out the freedom of speech.
      taking tianyaclub.com for example, it has 270,000 online readers (statistical data @ moment of writing this comment). old bbs-style threads are full of criticisms to the government. the official propaganda TV/newspapers are frequently derided. china's internet is not entirely as free as in the states. but freedom of speech is not entirely suppressed either. as long as the language doesn't
      cross the line, i.e., overthrowing the government, nobody cares. polices are busy at keeping the social unrest at poor rural areas under control.

      i had read rolling stone's article. frankly, i am quite surprised by the reaction. there are little discussion on the internet here. it is not that it is a tabooed topic. pretty much every thing could be openly debated on internet here. (of course, not including getting ride of ruling party). as far as i can tell, people are more concerned about corruption, rising house price, inflation.

      btw, George Orwell's books are available here in english book store. 1984, animal farm,etc...

      • by mppm (898502) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:35AM (#23624673)
        I was in SZ a few months ago and will go back in the Fall. My girlfriend is there and she just got her new ID card. For the casual visitor the last thing anyone thinks of is that one is in a police state. There are security and police everywhere, but they mostly look bored and, as far as I could tell, they didn't have much to do. One is very safe walking around, even late at night. Try that in Philly, or Miami, or any large American city. Of course the population is mostly homogenous--they are all Chinese and, as such, have a common ground. The only thing keeping the Chinese from taking over the world is the communist party. The red tape (no pun) makes doing business very awkward. If they can kick the CCP we will all be speaking Mandarin in a few generations. I'd much rather live in SZ than, say, the Middle East or even Europe, now. My impression was that, in general, they really like Americans. Not many places in the world can say that. I'd suggest people go there and spend a month or two. Get your own ideas and make up your own mind.
        • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:38PM (#23630313)

          One is very safe walking around, even late at night. Try that in Philly, or Miami, or any large American city.
          There are probably very few people who would take the position that a Police State is completely devoid of any possible benefits, fringe or otherwise. However, most of us who live in Europe and the United States are of the opinion that those benefits, which are probably few and far between, are not worth the costs of giving up what we regard as essential rights and freedoms. I for one will take a little crime any day if the alternative is effectively unlimited secret police powers to search, seize, and detain at will. I would rather have my freedoms and take my chances with those other people who might abuse theirs than see everyone stripped of their freedoms in the name of public safety.
      • by Jesus IS the Devil (317662) on Monday June 02, 2008 @11:13AM (#23627217)
        Um I don't think so. I've been those forums. If you write anything critical and have facts to back it up, often times it'll be closed/deleted. Just because someone is able to voice their opinion for a few minutes doesn't mean it will stick.

        There indeed is a lot of censorship. When was the last time you heard the media criticize the government? Like never. And what does 99% of the people see? Internet forum postings or television/newspaper?

        So to say that China is "almost" as free as other democratic countries is just as ludicrous as saying a mouse is as big as an elephant.
      • by CodeBuster (516420) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:31PM (#23630261)

        as long as the language doesn't cross the line, i.e., overthrowing the government, nobody cares.
        Nobody cares as long as the person saying it is a nobody and remains obscure. However, it is convenient for those in power to have the ability to go back and dig up dirt on anyone who becomes a "trouble maker" or problem to somebody in power in the future. The fact that governments have these powers is dangerous, whether or not the actually use them, because they *could* use them if they wanted to against their political opponents. The mere suggestion or threat that the powers could be used or abused is enough to create fear and control. In fact, this was part of the original theory behind the Panopticon [wikipedia.org], it was not necessary to actually monitor the prisoners at all times because the prisoners could not tell when they were being monitored or when a previously made recording (once recording and database technology became practical) might be reviewed. The mere threat or possibility of monitoring created fear and control.
    • by Squeeze Truck (2971) <xmsho@yahoo.com> on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:59AM (#23624781) Homepage
      The bookseller in front of my apartment (Dalian, China) has about twenty titles in English. 1984 is three of them.
      Hell, I picked up a copy of the Federalist Papers at the Xinhua state-controlled bookstore.

      You guys need to calm down and stop jumping to conclusions. Very little is banned, and that not very well.
  • I am amazed. This has to be a joke, right? China is currently a largely agricultural society where a majority of citizens still live in the mountains. The money spent on bugging the population could be better spent on feeding the poor. I am surprised at how short-sighted the Communists are, and I already hold them in pretty low esteem.
    • by NoobixCube (1133473) on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:12AM (#23623371) Journal
      It's nothing to do with them being Communists. Actually, if they were to do something with Communist motivation, it would be feeding the poor. This is more about stamping out sedition. Something any government could do, completely separate from their political style.
      • You are confused (Score:3, Interesting)

        by symbolset (646467)

        You are confusing communism in theory with communism in practice. It's a common error and your reeducation team will be around presently to correct the error.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Kharny (239931)
          And you are confusing maoism with communism.

          There is no such thing as practical communism, it's a theoretical model with no real-life application due to human nature. The chinese state is a semi-feudal society.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The very word, Communism (spelled with capital C is "communism in theory"). Look it up if you don't believe me.

          The former poster is not confused, because he is hinting this sort of abuse can come from any government, and the story too points to how commercial entities can pressure this sort of thing into our existence. This is why we need to be vigilant and never allow people to forget.
      • Yeah, because the communists were all about feeding the poor. Funny though, how countries like the USSR, China, and Cambodia had famines shortly after going Communist. Those damn kulaks, just sabotaging the people's revolution.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by graft (556969)
      Why don't you RTFA? There you will find discussion of, for example, China's 130 million-strong population of migrants and how they are the underclass forming the backbone of cities like Shenzen.
    • by niktemadur (793971) on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:20AM (#23623409)
      These are Communists in name only, on two fronts:

      - Stalinism wasn't Communist, it was Stalinism. In that regard, whatever China's government practices, it's not Communism.
      - Communism on paper was never about putting antifreeze in toothpaste or lead in child toy's paint. That's the exact opposite, Xtreme Capitalism.

      It's heartbreaking how the least enlightened people end up running so many countries, and that goes for China present and past, too.

      Ever heard about The Great Sparrow Campaign? In the late fifties, the Mao government decided that sparrows, who ate seeds, were a public menace and implemented a nationwide campaign to kill the sparrows. They succeded, by having the population bang pots and pans in the streets, keeping the sparrows in the air until they dropped dead from exhaustion.

      As a result, locusts flourished, with their natural predator virtually gone, devastating the countryside, generating a famine that killed, by most estimates, between 35 and 40 million Chinese. All of it covered up, of course, there is not a single photograph that documents this massive catastrophe, even in the second half of the XX Century.

      Another fine example of unthinkably ignorant and incompetent government at work, in full effect, and never mind the symbolic Communist tag.
      • I just remembered what the proper term is: Totalitarianism. Whether Capitalist, Communist or whatever, it's always bad news for everyone.
      • by Asic Eng (193332) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:37AM (#23624677)
        Well, is the Pope catholic? Seriously - is he? That would depend on whether he really believes in the religion he preaches - some Popes in the past did not, but in modern times that's not actually a problem for the catholic church. I'd say the same criteria would have to be applied to any ideology: if you believe in an ideology and base your policy on it - then your reference to it is not just symbolic. Was the Mao regime (and that does not just include himself, but the vast numbers actually running the country) communist? Did they read Marx and believe in his ideas? Who can claim that their claim to be communists is less valid then their own? Is real communism only defined by people who are "theoretical communists" - i.e. people who never actually attempt to run a country on their own? I think Mao has a much better claim.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sydneyfong (410107)

        It's heartbreaking how the least enlightened people end up running so many countries, and that goes for China present and past, too.

        The guys at the top these days are pretty competent.

        Mao was a charismatic leader who's probably much better leading troops than governing a country. There's no doubt that however you hold him as a person, he did blunder quite a bit with his economic policies. The leaders today are better. The economy is growing, people are *generally* getting richer, and say what you will about China's human rights situation, it's *slowly* getting better, and at least not getting worse. Then look around and see many other

    • "I am amazed. This has to be a joke, right? China is currently a largely agricultural society where a majority of citizens still live in the mountains. The money spent on bugging the population could be better spent on feeding the poor. I am surprised at how short-sighted the Communists are, and I already hold them in pretty low esteem."

      China has dragged more people out of poverty in the last 30yrs than the rest of the planet combined and it has done so on a fraction of the resources available to the wes
  • by sweet_petunias_full_ (1091547) on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:03AM (#23623305)

    This is how this Golden Shield will work: Chinese citizens will be watched around the clock through networked CCTV cameras and remote monitoring of computers. They will be listened to on their phone calls, monitored by digital voice-recognition technologies. Their Internet access will be aggressively limited through the country's notorious system of online controls known as the "Great Firewall." Their movements will be tracked through national ID cards with scannable computer chips and photos that are instantly uploaded to police databases and linked to their holder's personal data. This is the most important element of all: linking all these tools together in a massive, searchable database of names, photos, residency information, work history and biometric data. When Golden Shield is finished, there will be a photo in those databases for every person in China: 1.3 billion faces.


    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I see nothing in the above that we're not already doing here or have announced that we will be doing soon. And the amazing thing is this really big giant coincidence that it's also happening everywhere else. What gives? It's like a world government has been instituted or something.

  • No problem (Score:4, Funny)

    by mark72005 (1233572) on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:11AM (#23623357)
    Put MediaDefender on it!
  • Does China's All-Seeing Eye work better than Yahoo's? Maybe I can finally find a Quake2 jailbreak server!
  • by gregbot9000 (1293772) <mckinleg@csusb.edu> on Monday June 02, 2008 @01:32AM (#23623479) Journal
    And it's not Capitalist, it's a wonderful halfway point called fascist.

    From TFA: "Remember how we've always been told that free markets and free people go hand in hand? That was a lie. It turns out that the most efficient delivery system for capitalism is actually a communist-style police state"

    Free markets require the freedom to chose without coercion in order to be efficient for everyone involved. China does not have a free market. The transactions are not efficient for the low man on the totem pole, namely the worker. China is fascist, and the country is a giant form of monopoly that has huge profit margins by manipulating the labor supply and the rights afforded to individuals to drive down costs. Just because China is having huge profits does not mean they are more efficient.

    A lot of people will go on about the horrible violation to civil liberties all of these things China does are, but no one ever talks about the horrible damage these things do to the economic well being of the country.
    China IS going to undergo serious reform or revolution. It won't be possible to maintain any level of efficiency without the proper rule of law or a Meritocracy. China WILL become more efficient once more people start demanding a larger share, and the only way they can do this is through greater representation and markets, markets that need informed consumers who are not being forced to act against their best interests.
    All successful revolutions have come from the middle to upper class capitalists who are feed up with kings and lords ruling by mandate cutting into their bottom line. China is no different.
    From TFA "With political unrest on the rise across China, the government hopes to use the surveillance shield to identify and counteract dissent before it explodes into a mass movement"
    If someone is dissenting that means there is something that needs to be changed. That is the best example of why china, like the USSR, will hit a standard of living wall. Efficiency requires freedom.
    • by martin-boundary (547041) on Monday June 02, 2008 @05:34AM (#23624665)

      Efficiency requires freedom.
      Is this a quote from 1984 Redux? Sounds like it. In reality, efficiency does not require freedom so much as coercion and a clear chain of command, like in the military. Freedom actually breaks efficiency.

      It would be unbelievably inefficient for an army if every soldier during a war had the freedom to second guess or change his orders, and maybe go have a snack or watch a movie when he should be guarding the pass. That's freedom, and it's NOT efficient.

      The truth is that authoritarian systems are better adapted economically at producing goods cheaply and efficiently. It doesn't help if they don't also have smart people at the top, just like the most efficient army can still make mistakes with bad generals.

      The other issue about economic efficiency is that it's a silly goal in itself. People want to live their lives according to their own wishes, not according to the place that economic efficiency has in store for them. You might be extremely good at washing dishes, yet still prefer to be a poet at half the pay. If the goal is economic efficiency, then you'll be employed as a dish washer to maximize profit, instead of writing for a literary magazine. So the side effect of making efficiency the "goal" for a country is to make more people miserable than if the goal was something else.

  • More and more our society is becoming little more than a glorified ant farm for the government's voyeurist enjoyment - manipulating and watching us little ants roam around in our daily routines, while every so often throwing some monkey wrench into the works for some excitement.

    I've met numerous security folks over the years who have acknowledged often using security cameras for their personal pleasure, such as stalking and voyeurism.

    Ron
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:25AM (#23623737)
    Despite the presence of many centralized CCD cameras in London, crime levels have yet to be reduced.

    If police cannot effectively track and follow criminals, what makes anyone think China can do any better tracking and following dissidents? It's a lot more obvious on a camera when a real crime is being committed, far less so when a thought crime is...

    What makes anyone think we should not laugh at the Chinese for attempting this? Let them waste their money on this fruitless pursuit of technology that someone with a square of cloth or a bit of paint can work around.

    People would be wise to remember that China has done a lot worse things than point cameras at people in the past. It seems like dissidents would be better off with a China that has fewer actual agents on the streets to collect and track people, and more worthless cameras collecting so much data they are unusable.

    • by Free the Cowards (1280296) on Monday June 02, 2008 @02:42AM (#23623839)
      I believe that the unspoken opinion on Slashdot is that cameras are only useless in free societies, and that totalitarian societies are much better able to make use of them. This is how people are simultaneously able to hold the opinion that 1984 warned us about all of this and these cameras aren't all that useful anyway.

      I'm not even sure that this unspoken opinion is wrong. If cameras can be sufficiently automated, or even just enough people can be put on duty watching them, then they can be used to compile behavior habits which don't pass the threshold of crime but which can be used for other oppressive purposes. The big worry with the proliferation of cameras in free societies is that the push to make use of the cameras will result in those societies becoming much less free.
      • by Urkki (668283)
        The thing that matters is, what can they do with the things they see with the cameras. If they can come and take you with impunity because you smiled the wrong way, then it's a big deal if they can track your smiles with automatic camera system.
  • Why does it look like its squinting?
  • Wait.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crhylove (205956)
    You mean it's going to be just like the US and UK already are?!? I agree that is horrifying!!!

    If you are concerned about human rights and the right to privacy in any country, please feel free to spread this image around:

    http://a819.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images01/8/l_16c58f4c82c1b2155b841ff67aeb02ba.jpg [myspacecdn.com]
  • well, China wants to be like the west, so it's only copying the English government.

    sadly, whilst this is a vague attempt at humour, it's also mostly true.

    I did have a longer response but the stupid new slashdot posting mechanism caused me to lose it when I accidentally clicked on something using my overly sensitive touch pad, had to click back and of course its gone.

  • It sounds like a way to provide work - have a few billion people watch a few billion other people. A totally pointless exercise, but it will keep them busy...
  • by Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) on Monday June 02, 2008 @03:50AM (#23624171)
    It's always worked in the past, right? What a bunch of fucking bullshit. Know what else? We won't have to fire a single shot against China, ever, because they continue to perpetrate crap like this, there's eventually going to be a civil war over it. Human beings don't like being treated this way, and they can't jail the whole billion-plus of them -- not even by making the whole country into a prison -- which is essentially what they're trying to do. I don't care WHAT culture you're from, you can't make me believe that you LIKE being treated like a prisoner.
    • You just shoot the first few hundred who try anything then the other 999.9999 million suddenly find that keeping their heads down and tending their crops or working in a sweat shop suddenly seems that whole lot more appealing. Works everywhere in the world - look at Zimbabwe for another example.
  • She's coming (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alexborges (313924) on Monday June 02, 2008 @11:58AM (#23627801)
    Whilst there was naught to see beyond the mist of his bedroom, he knew the computer was there, watching.

    "Up you go", he said to himself. Into the shower, into his polo shirt, into his fucking docker kakhis. Out the door, neighbors in their own fucking kakis. Neighbor wives into their own fucking kakis.

    A fucking brown golden retreiver got him to think about the color kaki and to wonder about why does it contrive such peacefullness to him. He disregards that thought. He moves on.

    He gets in the brown bus, heading to the brown office of Brown-Red Hat food division. He does not stop for lunch: its waiting for him in the cafeteria the exact momento his meal time comes up.

    "Just in time, is how the japs did it, just in time is how i like it", its eleven o'clock, he finishes lunch. He goes back to the office. He gets no calls. He only codes two lines, and hits the green button, then the machine tells him what to do next. If he does not hit the green button every exactly one minute, a big red buzzer comes up, and that lady from up there will come and look down on him, she will tell him how he is endangering the possibilities of their kids, he is telling him about the new legal provissions that provides for the automatic inheritance of both credit and work records to his children.

    She will drop a final line about the war, about how the red-chinks are going to "get us" because we do not know how to work for a common goal, as a team, and they can. Theyve learned to sacrifice for the lot. Theyve learned to trust their leaders.

    Theyve learned that the gene-fight the cultural-fight is for the long run, and while we, a young occident, were fighting about whats the right ammount of freedom, they were building the mega-machine-economic-behemot covering from Moscow to Tokio, from Siberia to Malasya. And we are loosing this war because of selfish people that do not understand the importance of the green button. It allows us to plan on the long run, to calculate mistakes, to get ahead of them, to be more productive.

    "You should feel fortunate", she would say, turning on her heels and moving away, gesturing as if she were crying, just like the Corporate Human Resources IT Coach Management Manual says she should gesture.

     

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

Working...