Taiwan: China to Implement Monitoring System
China is about to complete a “Golden Shield” project monitoring the movements, phone conversations and online activities on the whole of its territory, a Taiwanese Chinese-language newspaper Liberty Times reportedly said in its Tuesday [9 December 2008] edition.
The project will lead to the shrinking of Internet freedom, human rights and personal freedoms, and to a massive invasion of privacy, the Taiwan News Online reported the newspaper as saying in a report on its front page.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council has reportedly described the project as a high-tech online version of China’s notorious Public Security system. According to Taiwan News Online, MAC, in an analysis report, described the project as a “21st-century electronic version of the communist totalitarian supervision system, combining an information database with a penetrating observation network.”
Development of the system began in 1998, with a first version coming online in September 2003, the Liberty Times reportedly said. The Golden Shield officially went into full mode in November 2006, but due to technical problems, an enhanced version won’t come online until later this month [December 2008].
The newspaper also reportedly added that in addition to the online supervision network, Chinese authorities are also planning to install 200,000 security cameras nationwide, including in the major cities of Beijing and Shanghai, to tighten their information about what is going on in society.
Apart from the technical infrastructure, the Liberty Times says, China is also employing up to 300,000 people in new government organizations created to manage the system, according to the Taiwan News Online.
According to the online news, the new system is seen by the MAC as a “potential attack weapon which can erase online comments not sympathetic to China during a major news event. It can also guide online discussion into the direction desired by the authorities.”
The government employees managing the system could also be ordered to turn their expertise into an attack force, disseminating computer viruses and launching hacker attacks against unfriendly web sites, the online news adds the MAC as saying in a report.
The Liberty Times reportedly writes that the Golden Shield project has “also attracted commercial interests, with business participating in the development of the advanced technology or giving in to China’s demands for information.”
Sometimes, opponents of the regime still succeed in breaking through the limits imposed by the Golden Shield system, the newspaper reportedly says, quoting the example of an environmental protest in Xiamen in June 2007. Protesters using cell phone text messaging succeeded in rallying 20,000 people for a march against a chemical plant project by fugitive Taiwan tycoon Chen Yu-hao before the authorities shut down the texting network, the paper reportedly writes in its front page report.