China’s internet censors crack down… What it says about America’s future… The problem with “hate speech” rules… In the mailbag: “Our youth will eventually be destroyed”…
Daily Cut regulars know that we’ve been tracking the spread of Surveillance Societies around the world…
…and that Silicon Valley – aided and abetted by the national security faction of the Deep State – is laying the foundations for mass digital surveillance in America.
If you’re just joining the conversation, don’t worry. We’ll catch you up real quick…
A Surveillance Society is one that’s bent on tracking and recording every move its citizens make – in both the physical and digital realms.
You’ve heard the phrase “knowledge is power.” Well, this is the ultimate expression of that idea.
The more knowledge governments have about your everyday life – where you travel… what you search for online… who you’re friends with… what books you read… what political parties you support – the easier it is for them to control you.
And the easier it is for them to make sure you don’t step out of line.
The Party bosses in Beijing want to know as much as possible about everyone living in China.
That’s why they’re using cutting-edge technology such as facial recognition, data mining, and even gait analysis (identifying you by the way you walk) to track and monitor the country’s 1.4 billion citizens.
As we’ve explored in these pages, the accumulation of vast troves of personal data allows the Chinese feds to monitor and control society in ways the Nazi Gestapo, Soviet KGB, and East German Stasi could only dream of.
And as we’ve been warning, the authorities here in the supposed “Land of the Free” are taking notes.
That’s how Legacy Research cofounder Bill Bonner put it in a conversation we had with him last week…
The internet – and all the data we share across it every day – has turned out to be a big boon to governments who want to keep track of you by using Big Data to monitor everything you do all the time…
The internet fundamentally decreases the cost of control. And when you reduce the cost of control, you get a lot more of it.
And nowhere is the effect of cheaper control more evident today than in China… where 800 million people are now hooked up to the internet.
Founded in 1368 by the Hongwu Emperor, the Jinyiwei – or “brocade-clad guard” – served as the secret police to the Ming emperors.
The Jinyiwei began as personal bodyguards to the emperor. But they soon became his eyes and ears among his subjects.
They also carried out brutal punishments – including mass executions – directed at anyone who didn’t toe the line.
There’s censorship everywhere online these days. But China takes it to a new level.
The Chinese feds heavily censor internet traffic inside the country. For instance, you’ll find zero references to the words “dissident,” “protest,” “human rights,” “democracy,” or “anticommunism” online when in China.
The Communist Party blocks them. It also blocks the websites of Western newspapers… along with access to Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
It’s even forcing homegrown tech giants Baidu and Sohu – China’s two largest internet companies – to temporarily suspend their news feeds to “root out undesirable content.”
And it’s shuttered social media platforms, chat apps, and video games that it believes cast the Party in a bad light.
Take the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre – when government tanks and troops gunned down, by some estimates, more than 10,000 pro-democracy protesters.
Ahead of the massacre’s 30-year anniversary in June, Beijing is clamping down even harder.
The Cyberspace Administration of China – which carries out internet censorship on behalf of the government – has launched a new campaign against “negative and harmful information” on the internet.
It says content that is “pornographic, vulgar, violent, horrific, fraudulent, superstitious, abusive, threatening, inflammatory, rumor, and sensational,” or related to “gambling,” or spreading “bad lifestyles and bad culture” needs to go.
In other words, pretty much anything it doesn’t like… or believes is damaging to the Party.
To police internet content inside its borders, the Chinese feds are putting human censors to work alongside artificial intelligence (AI) censors. (These AI censors are algorithms that trawl massive amounts of data trying to spot content the government wants removed.)
One censorship factory, run by an outfit called Beyondsoft, employs 4,000 human censors. They work around the clock deciding what content is allowed and what content is not.
Ironically, these human censors grew up under strict censorship laws. So they know nothing about Chinese history. Here’s Dan Denning, Bill’s coauthor on The Bill Bonner Letter…
The depressing reality is that for Chinese authorities to censor the internet… and protect the Communist Party from criticism… young Chinese are having to learn, for the first time, the history of their government’s suppression of dissent. Only they can spot internet comments about it and censor them.
It’s also a sneak peek of what lies ahead for America and other supposedly free societies.
Facebook already employs an army of thousands of human censors – many of them outsourced to third-party companies.
They work around the clock policing Facebook’s roughly 2 billion users, based on a rulebook more than 1,400 pages long. (Someone inside Facebook leaked the whole thing to the press.)
And according to Dan, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Silicon Valley’s own censorship factories…
If Facebook and Google and Twitter want to police their platforms – as they say they do – they’re going to have to define “hate” and hire tens of thousands of people to enforce their speech codes. Or they’re going to have to turn the job over to AI software.
The result will be the same – stifled free speech in America and the end of the internet as a medium for free expression. The only way to police “hate speech”‘ is to give the people you least trust – the government, Silicon Valley, academics – the authority to decide what is and is not permitted. And that’s where we’re headed, I’m afraid.
But censorship isn’t all you have to worry about as an American. As we’ll be exploring in future dispatches, facial recognition – a key part of the Chinese Social Credit System – is now becoming commonplace across the U.S.
And the situation is about to get worse… as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) deploys Amazon’s facial recognition technology.
The debate around pot legalization continues. Today, your fellow readers weigh in on the questions we asked you yesterday…
I think legalizing all drugs is better than making criminals of users. Added benefit, there is no longer a reason for drug cartels.
– Paul M.
Government trying to control every aspect of our lives is the problem. Drugs and guns have never killed anyone on their own. It has always been the people that abuse them that hurt others and themselves.
– Matt W.
Once anyone starts taking or using drugs, it is almost impossible to stop. Even if marijuana is legalized, you will see a store on every corner selling drug-laced candy and other things. Our youth will eventually be destroyed.
– Aunita P.
I don’t care if marijuana is harmful – or any other drug. The fact is, a hundred years later, trillions of dollars wasted, and millions of lives destroyed, legal and illegal drugs are killing more people than ever. It’s time to stop the insanity and try something different.
Of course, part of that would be recognizing that all the digital ink spilled on legalizing completely skips over the more difficult causation of the moral rot that has overtaken much of our society. The drugs are simply a reflection of a much larger and broader problem. But that’s not as salacious, or easy, as talking about drugs.
– John P.
Is there no way to save our youth from the “moral rot that has overtaken much of our society,” as reader John P. put it? Or is legalization the solution, like Paul M. says?
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January 9, 2019