The news: The Chinese government is expected to pass one of the world’s strictest data privacy laws, which would limit the ways in which private companies siphon personal information, according to The Wall Street Journal.
How we got here: If passed, the measures mark a milestone in China’s rapid crackdown on some of its largest, most influential technology companies, all in the name of consumer rights.
What’s the catch? Though China’s new rules may place some of the world’s strictest data restrictions on private firms, those same standards won’t apply equally to the government’s own internet activities.
The country’s crackdown on allegedly invasive data collection efforts comes as humans rights and civil liberties groups continuously condemn the Chinese government for dystopic levels of state-backed digital surveillance, particularly of vulnerable groups such as the country’s Uighur Muslim minority.
And while privacy protections in the US and Europe generally apply to both the public and private sector, the Chinese government is attempting to use simmering Chinese public mistrust of large internet firms to appear in support of consumers by clamping down on firms while continuing its own intrusive data practices, according to Kendra Schaefer, a partner at Beijing-based consulting firm Trivium ChinaIn, per the Journal.
What’s next? The passage of the new privacy and anti-competition measures could lead China towards a more consolidated, unified future, where tech companies work more closely to help the government achieve its goals of becoming a global leader in 5G, blockchain technologies, and other emerging tech.
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