Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Living in a Surveillance State: China
NPR.org (first of two reports); Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
China is becoming a surveillance state. [The Buddhist monastics of Tibet might argue that it has been this way for quite sometime without the world noticing.] In recent years, the government has installed more than 20 million cameras across a country where a decade ago there weren't many. [There is now one camera for every 43 people with many more being installed and planned.]
Today, in Chinese cities, cameras are everywhere: on highways, in public parks, on balconies, in elevators, in taxis, even in the stands at sporting events.
Officials say the cameras help combat crime and maintain "social stability" -- a euphemism for shutting up critics.
In fact, the government routinely uses cameras to monitor and intimidate dissidents.
[Occupy Movement? The police state would never stand for it. It would be broken up and crushed and its peace activists brutalized, unlike our tolerant indulgence in the US and Europe, which encourages speaking out against injustices like rampant empire building, endless war, home foreclosures, corrupt banking practices, catastrophic national debt, environmental degradation, pharmaceutical abuse, student loan traps, police brutality, stop and frisk violations, racism, sexism, and homeland spying.]
Human rights activists worry that more surveillance will erode the freedom of ordinary people and undermine what little ability they have to question their rulers.
Life Under Surveillance
Li Tiantian knows firsthand how the state can use video images against people it doesn't like. Li, 46, is an outspoken human rights lawyer in Shanghai.
Police watch Li so closely, it's best to visit her after dark and use a grove of trees behind her apartment building as cover. Once inside, she'll tell you to turn off your cellphone and put it in another room.
"People with technological know-how all said the cops can use cellphones to monitor people, track your location, even use cellphones as a listening device," Li explains, as dumplings she has prepared bubble in a pot. "People have reached a consensus that when we chat together, we put cellphones away."
Sound paranoid? It isn't.
Chinese state security agents have privately confirmed they can turn cellphones into listening devices. Li says they also eavesdrop on her conversations to track her movements and arrest her.
[Thank goodness the US state "security" apparatus -- known as the Department of Homeland Spying, NSA, NSC, FBI, (all of the clandestine agencies not yet known to the public), and the CIA, which regularly operates illegally inside the country, previously the purview of the FBI and police departments -- would never violate American civil liberties and citizens' rights. After all, what are our soldiers droning and invading countries around the world for if not to preserve our free speech rights, our freedom to protest, and our freedom "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"?]
"One morning, when I was going to a court hearing, I called a gypsy cab," says Li. "Police found out through the telephone that the car was coming to my compound. Then they waited there to catch me."
[Imagine a safer world where a homeland drone could have been hovering over a citizen's "compound" waiting to arrest and indefinitely detain suspects without having to muck about without all this unwarranted eavesdropping of cell phones? Now that would be a brave New World Order full of security and liberty.] More