China Forcing Computer and Phone Buyers to Report ID to Police Sounds All Too Familiar
Chinese citizens looking to purchase computers or cells phones will now have to register their personal identification with police, according to reports by The Guardian, Shanghai Daily and Tian Shan Net.
The ruling is reportedly for those in the western Xinjiang region of China and, from the sound of the law, China is trying to tighten its grip on free-flowing communications and information.
The Shanghai Daily said that the measures being taken are designed to, “prevent people spreading harmful information and carrying out illegal activities.”
These new laws requiring registration mainly require retailers to upload information about the purchaser to a police database upon purchase. All first-hand and second-hand electronic retailers must also install cameras throughout their store in case further verification of the purchase is needed.
Why is China Allowed to Get Away with This?
While it may be an outrage to some that China is imposing these laws on their people, a bigger issue may be why they’re allowed to get away with it. The world’s people are divulging information freely and willingly in the Western world, as well as not putting up too much of a fight when information is taken from them. China’s legislators are human as well – influenced by what they witness from other countries.
Believe it or not, the seemingly far-reaching regulation imposed by China is not all that different from practices in the United States, a country that might be outraged to hear the news.
According to a 2013 Federal Reserve Payments Study, 26.2 billion purchases were made by credit card in 2012. Stored on each credit card isn’t just financial information and the technology necessary to complete the purchase, though – there’s a slew of personal information being given voluntarily.
Don’t get it wrong – the Chinese government is far more outstretching than the United States. People paying in cash or bitcoin aren’t required to divulge personal information to U.S. companies in the slightest unless they’re signing up for an account or service upon purchase, which is then stored on a server the government may have access to under the right precedent. But people are willingly giving away personal information, making the U.S. government not have to impose such laws as China.
On top of that, its common knowledge that the National Security Agency (NSA) has their hands in personal information of all United States citizens. Just recently, it was found out that Microsoft, a company that collected personal information of customers upon using their Skype service, divulged that information to the NSA allowing them to store identification and communications of all Skype users.
Some might argue that the NSA collecting personal information in secret to spy on the country’s citizens is worse than being open and up front about it.
Even in the United Kingdom, David Cameron has promised that if he is re-elected he will crack down on encryption, arguing that the private communication is dangerous. Under the premise of terrorism prevention, Cameron and Barack Obama both openly agree that encrypted, personal communications should be available for the respective governments to see.
While outright taking of information for computer and phone purchases may be overstretching China’s boundaries, it doesn’t seem much different from other world leaders when looking at the big picture. It’s unfortunate, but personal information isn’t safe anywhere in the world, and China’s forceful legislation echoes the issue.
Images from Shutterstock.