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China is offering a new vision of the internet, one which combines sweeping content curbs with uncompromising data controls.
The idea is called Cybersovereignty and it's already spreading around the world.
This is your Bloomberg QuickTake on the new Cyber Cold War.
Welcome!
It's the new millennium, and a simpler time for the internet.
Western tech pioneers proclaim it's a borderless force for transparency and individual freedom.
But fast forward to now
and that's being challenged like never before.
A massive cyber attack affecting nearly 50 million Facebook users.
And it was my mistake, and I'm sorry.
Even if you're not doing anything wrong, you're being watched.
You want to win a war, you need weapons for that.
And we could build them.
There's been a global backlash against Facebook, Google, WhatsApp.
This backlash coincides with the rise of the Chinese model.
Today you have governments from Russia to Southeast Asia saying, hang on, we get to control content on the internet
and at the same time there is not an impediment to stunning economic growth.
It's an ideological coup and a rejection
of the American internet model, which promised to spur
innovation and freedom.
Now China is offering a different vision: both internet control and tech innovation, and it has fans.
Today, there would be a growing number of people
who would argue that controlling the flow of information
across the internet does not actually impede innovation.
The crux of the Chinese internet model is based around the nation state.
Setting your own rules for your own citizens
that can't be circumvented by the internet.
So very simply, they want to control
what sort of content is hosted on the internet
that's available to Chinese users
and they want absolute control over that content.
So if they decide, for instance, that they don't want
any references to the Tiananmen Massacre from 1989,
then they will scrub that out of every website and every app
within the country that Chinese or consumers can see.
And this controlled, moderated version of the internet
is spreading, especially across Southeast Asia.
Vietnam's controversial version
of the Chinese internet model went into effect in 2019.
It demands the data of Vietnamese users
is kept in the country.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest economy,
already requires data to be stored locally.
The Philippines has stepped up
what critics call a media crackdown
and one of the latest to buy into the rationale
is Thailand, which passed a cyber security bill
modeled on China's.
Southeast Asia is the testing ground for Chinese ambitions.
The region is home to more than half a billion people
whose internet economy is expected to triple
to 240 billion dollars by 2025.
I think a lot of Chinese companies,
and potentially Beijing itself,
see Southeast Asia as the first step in
expanding their influence globally
but that's when the digital Cold War kind of differs from
the Cold War we're familiar with.
In this case, I think countries are adopting
the Chinese style model without necessarily subscribing
to Beijing's style of government and/or Beijing's agenda.
China's version of the internet is appealing
to other nations who want to control
what their populations see and hear,
but it doesn't mean China's calling the shots.
Instead it could create an unprecedented bifurcation
of the internet, effectively ending our notion
of a truly worldwide web,
meaning what information you can easily access
would depend on where you are
and what that government decides you should know.
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China's Vision of a Censored Internet is Spreading

187 Folder Collection
洪子雯 published on June 13, 2019    Alvin He translated    Evangeline reviewed
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