We all admire privacy. Being in good company can be great, but there are at times that we want to be left alone. With all the technology that is around, and the dependency that we have on it, sometimes it feels impossible to get a simple moments peace.
But even when we do find ourselves completely isolated, are we truly alone? With A. I’s such as Siri and Alexa, it seems that sometimes our little gadgets may be part of our conversations, without any invite. What do they want to know? Why are they listening? We’ve all, I’m sure, have had this thought.
This tends to be the case in the United States where we are regulated on what we do with technology, but how does this compare with others?
Paul Mozur Is a Shanghai-based technology reporter. He writes about Asia’s biggest tech companies, as well as cybersecurity, emerging internet cultures, censorship and the intersection of geopolitics and technology in Asia. He previously worked for The Wall Street Journal and now writes for The New York Times.
On an average day in Shanghai, Paul has to continuously watch his back because of technological demand of his Job. In China, getting out of the governments eyesight can be a difficult task. Paul estimates about 200 million surveillance cameras in China, about four times the amount in the U.S. The telecom companies are controlled in Beijing, and internet companies have no option but to hand over their data whenever the police feel like they want it.
As a journalist, Mozur is required to register his address with the police. This means that they monitor his digital footprints, and has once even had the police knocking on his door with concerns about something he posted on the Internet. Something even crazier; in some parts of China, policeman will demand to go through the photos on your phone.
Will we ever know what it’s like to be completely isolated?
Mozur has to watch every single move that he makes on the web in order to protect his data. In doing so, he has a few tricks that help him protect his data, as well as his profession. Simple but clever, he uses two identical iPhones with identical cases. He also carries around a Bluetooth keyboard and a USB drive in place of a laptop. This way he can quickly get his work on to a portable, subtle device.
Although there are ways around the government, they still will constantly be listening. Getting caught setting up any apps for communication that are against the law will result in some sort of severe punishment. His extra phone in his pocket is just another microphone for him to speak through for the government to listen.
The government always wins. Or do they?
Mozur explains that it’s gotten to the point where the government doesn’t even trust the government. He claims that he has found in reporting data sharing between different ministries, it is common for a part of government to distrust another part so strongly that it won’t share its data.
It seems strange for a country that is so concerned with the power of technology and science, that there are so many restrictions on what they can do with it. At that stage, what is the point?
What good is having anything if you can’t use it to its full potential? Why would anyone want to use any form of technology if a possible outcome is a violation of privacy and possible time in prison. There are many things in the U.S that we are not allowed to type into the internet, but there is far more leeway that those in China.
It should almost provide us with a sense of relief that Siri and Alexa are the only ones listening to us.
To read the original article by Paul Mozur, click here