CKGSB Knowledge - China Business and Economy

MENDING CHINA’S DATA FENCES

Film director Jean-Luc Godard once said that art has the power to reveal our most secret selves. For visitors to artist Deng Yufeng’s exhibition Secrets in Wuhan in April, this proved truer than they could ever have imagined.

Those entering the gallery found a wall of blue screens displaying the personal information of thousands of people: names, ages, heights, telephone numbers, bank details and even train ticket purchases. Deng had purchased the data online for just a few yuan each.

Police quickly shut down the exhibition and placed Deng under investigation, but the artist had successfully highlighted the ease of purchasing citizens’ details on the black market. Data theft is rife, affecting more than 80% of the country’s internet users, according to the Internet Security Society of China. Whereas the average data breach in the United States involves 1,458 records, in China it is 11 million.

Many tech companies, both big and small, have a cavalier attitude to the use and sharing of netizens’ data. In its 2018 survey of 22 major global internet and telecommunications companies, Ranking Digital Rights scored Baidu bottom among global internet firms and Tencent third worst.

Online data theft is rife in China, affecting more than 80% of internet users, and tech

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