China Becomes a Laboratory for the Regulation of Tech


The Chinese Communist Party is reminding internet billionaires who is boss.

Kendra Schaefer of Trivium, a consultancy in Beijing, has written that the publication of these new algorithm regulations marks the moment when Chinese tech laws have gone beyond those in Europe (in America, only California has such rules).

Data-protection experts say many of these changes will be beneficial. Chinese internet users are constantly assailed by spam messages and phone calls. An app developed by the ministry of public security, which promises to screen fraudulent calls and messages, has become one of the most downloaded in China since it was released in March. The Chinese press is full of stories about people’s personal data being stolen. In 2016 Xu Yuyu, a prospective student, died of a heart attack after transferring her life savings to fraudsters who used personal data purchased on the black market to trick her into thinking they represented her university.

Protecting people from such predations will burnish the party’s reputation for standing up for the little guy. The new rules give citizens more rights against companies than people in any other country. But they give Chinese internet users precisely no privacy rights enforceable against the state.

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