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China: Is Data Protection the Same as Data Monitoring?

Protección de los datos, El American

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The Leviathan tends to grow and, consequently, to become progressively problematic. To recognize this there is no need to fall into an economistic utilitarianism however much the economy matters as the concrete freedoms from which society benefits.

In this specific case, we will refer to the umpteenth maneuver of the totalitarian Chinese communist regime: the so-called Data Security Law, whose theoretical framework exposes a certain concern for “national security.”

Data protection?

We are talking about a project that was approved last June and will come into force on September 1. It is a complement to regulations such as the already updated Personal Information Protection Act, and the existing Cybersecurity Act, which was passed in 2017.

In a way, we are talking about a law whose range of application is “transnational”, given that the personal data affected does not necessarily have to be circumscribed to the Chinese political-territorial sphere. They stipulate it as a precaution against “threats to national security, public interest or legal interests of Chinese citizens or organizations.”

How will this law be implemented?

This project will establish specific categories of data, among which we can find, for example, “important data” or “important national data” (the latter would be related to national security, economy and critical public interests of this State in question).

At the same time, within the main points of the framework-objectives of action and application of this regulation, we can find issues such as active monitoring of security risks, an IT system of data protection in organizations, conditioning cross-border data transfers and classifying and formatting data according to legal standards, as well as cooperating with the work of the dictatorship.

All this makes this regulation much more worrying than the one already existing in the legal framework of the officially named “European Union” (the result of a harmonization of data protection laws in the various member states three years ago).

We are talking about a country with a state that hardly guarantees economic, political and social freedom. In fact, apart from setting invasive, scientistic and repressive guidelines in the face of health problems, it is a pioneer in server censorship, spurious uses of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and citizen monitoring.

In fact, new repressive maneuvers are added to this in Hong Kong, a city-state with an autonomy practically annulled by Beijing. The aim is to monitor, for subsequent punishment, the speeches made in Hong Kong in case they show a will to dissociate themselves from the Chinese regime.

Data protection by the state is an oxymoron

In practice, if you intend to inventory the type of data you manage, following a pre-established standardization for reporting to the State, you are not ensuring the anonymity of the information because you are giving information about the purpose of your actions and the type of variables you store, whether numerical or categorical.

At the same time, if “for security” you need to ask for excessive data protection acceptance clauses or take note of a multitude of phone call records, in the end you are giving relevance to private and personal information.

In fact, it is not consistent to promote data security and privacy when problematic statism is one of the main enemies of privacy, as it is understood as intrinsic to private property. Let’s be clear: there is no need for voluminous and bulky “regulations” when it comes to securing privacy. In addition, there is another important part of the reality that is not always very pleasant: small and medium-sized companies are the ones with the least economic and logistical capacity to comply with these new clauses that hinder their laudable activity.

Therefore, they should not be trusted. Let us be cautious, knowing who is promoting them and reflecting on the effectiveness of the measures adopted. Besides, a dictatorship like China’s will only care about “state secrets” and the Communist Party, but never about your privacy, since it wants the opposite and with more vileness than others.

Ángel Manuel García Carmona es ingeniero de software, máster en Big Data Analyst, columnista y tradicionalista libertario // Ángel Manuel García Carmona is a software engineer, master in Big Data Analyst, columnist and libertarian traditionalist.

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