Things in China only seem to become more dysphoric with the passage of time. China has long been established as a “big brother” state, where its citizens are highly monitored by the government and routinely stripped of freedoms. It was bad enough when China closed off its internet from the rest of the world. Now, advancements in technology have made the debacle even worse.
Facial Recognition and Artificially Intelligent Surveillance in China
China isn’t new to using facial recognition technology to spy on people. In fact, they’re the world’s largest exporter of artificially intelligent surveillance technology. Cameras are placed all throughout the country, meant to scan citizens in public places. People caught doing something as minor as jaywalking can be identified and fined through these cameras.
Citizens caught doing things they aren’t supposed to will take points against something called a “social credit score”. Too low of a score, and you can’t use public amenities like trains. There have also been reports of people with low social credit scores having their children denied access to decent schools.
This facial recognition system is often abused by the government, to the extent that public restrooms often require face scans before toilet paper will be dispensed. Schoolchildren are essentially babysat by the software, with reports of their behavior being automatically sent to their guardians and educators. This same technology will be utilized to grant individuals access to the internet.
China’s Terrifying Stances on Free Speech and the Internet
China has attempted to block VPNs, successfully eliminating those without stealth protocol. They’ve also completely removed access to popular social media platforms, replacing them with countrywide alternatives that are closely monitored by the government. They need to know what their citizens are saying and who they’re saying it to.
What was already an unacceptable stance on privacy has become an overreaching travesty. China’s new policy requires facial recognition identity verification for anyone who wants to use the internet, and they plan to enforce and monitor all activity even more than they have previously.
China’s New Policy
China’s new rule set forth by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on December 1, 2019. For years, China has required that people apply for cellphone or landline numbers with a photo ID. Now, these IDs must be cross referenced with facial recognition technology in order to allow internet access. Citizens will now need to apply for internet access
MIIT has made it illegal to sell or transfer SIM cards, preventing people from sharing their internet access with someone who has not passed a recognition test. Carriers are required to immediately shut down any numbers or connections of unknown origin, where an owner cannot clearly be discerned. They are required to cross reference all connections and devices granted to a person to ascertain that connections for others have not been opened in a different individual’s name.
Now, China will have facial recognition technology to associate every person online with their browsing activity. China often arrests people for posting unfavorable information or criticisms of the government online. This identity verification system makes it easier for authorities to jail people for their online activity.
Stealth VPNs to mask browsing activity
The only way Chinese citizens can have a single iota of privacy is by utilizing a stealth VPN. Since the country is able to detect and block regular VPN use, only stealth technology can bypass the long arm of the MIIT. Stealth VPN protocol hides the fact that a VPN is a VPN, making it appear to be a connection to a regular SSL website – AKA any website you can securely log into, like an email account.
The government will still know you’re online, but they won’t know what you’re doing. You can access blocked sites, read the news, and speak freely with your friends and family in other countries. Unless MIIT decides to impose any more frightening restrictions, a stealth VPN is the last hope the people of China have for freedom of speech and privacy.