China Boosts Surveillance System to monitor citizens
Posted by Author on September 2, 2010
Radio Free asia, Sep. 2, 2010 –
HONG KONG—Chinese netizens have reacted with shock and anger to a leaked government document detailing a nationwide plan to step up surveillance of people the government considers a risk to social stability.
Meanwhile, authorities began this week to implement a new registration process requiring cell phone users to present identification when purchasing new phones.
Zhejiang-based blogger Guo Weidong, known online by his nickname “Daxa,” said he recently caught a glimpse of an official screen displaying his name on a dissident watchlist after he swiped his second-generation national identity card at a railway station.
“I swiped my card that afternoon, and I discovered that there was a reference to the social stability system at the bottom,” Guo said. “I asked what stability protection meant, and was told that it had to do with having a file at the local police station.”
Next to the words “stability protection” on the screen was the name of a contact at his local police station together with a cell phone number, presumably belonging to an officer responsible for watching him, said Guo, who frequently posts material on social media that is critical of China’s ruling Communist Party.
China is home to more than 400 million Web users and more than 50 million bloggers, all of whom are frequently subjected to censorship by their Internet service providers.
Guo wrote about his experience on the microblogging service Twitter, which is blocked in China to those unfamiliar with the technology needed to get around government filters, known collectively as the “Great Firewall.”
Netizens responded by comparing the security measures to measures described in George Orwell’s classic novel 1984 and to the blacklist kept by the Stasi secret police in the former East Germany.
On Monday, Chinese social media also circulated a document detailing a nationwide “stability protection” regime linked by computer, and ranking people considered threats to social order into grades A, B, or C.
According to the document, posted originally on the website of Chunxiao township in the eastern city of Ningbo, authorities have already used the system to block petitioners and rights activists attempting to travel to Shanghai to stage protests during the World Expo.
‘A’ grade security threats are put under 24-hour surveillance by local police stations supervised by a central management office, the document states, while ‘B’ grade threats are watched by informants in their hometowns.
‘C’ grade threats are asked to sign guarantee letters of good behavior and are required to register with police if they leave town.
An official who answered the phone at the Chunxiao township government denied the document exists.
“No, there’s no such thing,” the official said, before hanging up the phone.
Half an hour after the phone call, the document was no longer visible on the government website, with only a blank page at the same address.
Shanghai-based rights activist Feng Zhenghu said the document was probably posted online by accident by local officials unaware of the need for secrecy…….(more details from Radio Free Asia)
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