They can see you, but you can't see them.
This is tyranny.
The people in power can do anything anytime anywhere they want and you'll never know, unless other people in power tell you about it.
There is an ever deepening divide in our society and eventually the people on the lower side will never be able to touch the people on the upper side, and if there's ever a global catastrophe, we'll be left behind to fend for ourselves.
Citizens for example have been able to track the classified X-37 missions due to advances in optics and technology.
Electronic files have made it easier for whistleblowers to exfiltrate large amounts of data. That would likely be much more difficult with physical files.
It is much harder for governments to hide their behavior now that every citizen has a high-res camera in their pocket capable of real-time streaming to a wide audience.
It is much easier for citizens to communicate and organize. Even if the government backdoors popular communication apps, mesh networking and endpoint encryption are still possible (I.E. Firechat).
In a way technology can help us. Technology can help democratize survaliance.
We should have targeted progress, in the areas we want to improve and which is beneficial, and not in other areas, which is not beneficial or has negative externalities or adverse second and third order effects...
The same way governments try to control e.g. nuclear proliferation.
Here's an example: would you be ok with a nuclear-equivalent technology that could be made by anyone in their homes, with simple materials and be able to e.g. wipe out an entire city? Surely, it would be a technological and engineering progress. But just as surely as that, I'd rather we regressed technologically and prohibited access to the materials etc, than have that be available to every idiot, madman and bigot.
Now, you might say that "it's impossible", but I don't think so. In a democracy nothing should be impossible, and political and cultural action could be made to curtail certain technologies.
That's not unlike Kurwzeil and Musk, notable technologists, warning against AI singularity...
Imo, Technological progress is mostly driven by natural human desire.
Personally, I want technological progess and willing to work hard to make sure it happen. That includes technology that makes survaliance better and easier.
The issue with privacy is imo, instead we try to hide the information, we should fix whatever it is that make us suffer when the information become public.
If you do not know what you are specifically looking for you should not be looking.
They might have this kind of power, but they don't have enough scale and other power (p.x. state power) to matter as much as a state or company like Google doing it...
And if it's illegal they can always be busted for using it, and their private surveillance results could be automatically rejected as court evidence for anything, making them even more useless except for e.g. blackmail or something (still illegal).
If they can use surveillance and keep it forever secret and with no public artifacts from it shown, let them do it...
Not to dispute your very valid point, but the second half isn't as true as you think.
I took down my outdoor security camera after the trip.
Note I am not defending Chinese. Just shocked at how different our experiences were. Plenty of youtube travel videos or videos of Shenzen or other cities that look similar to the experiences I've had.
Also, fun fact, HN is blocked here.
* Cartoons - Authoritarianism was wrapped up and packaged with cute police cartoons https://www.google.com/search?q=china+police+cartoon&sxsrf=A...
* The Red Armbands - Communist party volunteers, in the subway, and in the community keeping watch https://bitterwinter.org/red-armbands-are-watching-you/
* Passport check at sensitive locations and to buy a train ticket. To get into Tiananmen Square I needed a passport, I was denied entry to my train and separated from my group because the passport number didn't match my ticket
* Police everywhere. Literally everywhere
* I saw a a mosque surrounded by security cameras. They didn't even hide its surveillance.
* I was watched everywhere, except the great wall - but I was told cameras are being constructed there too. The feeling I had was like being in the forest of District 12 of the Hunger Games, I felt free there.
* Signs in the Hotel warn you that you DO NOT have a right to privacy, and you must register your passport or state ID
Is that because the West is acutely self-critical? Or is there something else going on here?
Egypt under Hosni Mubarak near the end was notably different. There'd be heavily armed soldiers everywhere in all black. Unexplainable trucks of soldiers going everywhere. Locals wouldn't talk about certain places. I haven't been to China myself but my parents have and we've all been to Egypt and their impression was that the big cities were pretty much like a big European city or something like New York.
If it gives you any faith that my opinion isn't some Chinabot, I still remember The Economist's Red Moon Rising issue as frightening. I just think they're probably very good at keeping the authoritarianism inconspicuous and therefore more terrifying.
I don't deny your experience but this could be one of those Rashomon like situations where we all look at the same thing and come away with a different picture. And if it wasn't actually in your face then it'll discredit any argument about China's authoritarianism when people go there and see a prosperous happy people instead.
Those were installed for the Olympics in 2008, I believe, when they feared terrorist attacks with foreign victims tarnishing their image. Nowadays they're still manned, but more security theater. I got all kinds of questionable stuff through the scanner, including an induction stove and a kitchen knife. No one ever bothered to take a closer look.
> * Cartoons - Authoritarianism was wrapped up and packaged with cute police cartoons
Police ≠ Authoritarianism. Most Chinese police officers are just doing completely ordinary police work.
> * Police everywhere. Literally everywhere
Sounds like you literally never left the touristy areas. China has fewer law enforcement personnel per inhabitant than most Western countries and heavy presence is limited to only a few important spots, like tourist attractions.
> * I saw a a mosque surrounded by security cameras. They didn't even hide its surveillance.
I've never seen a mosque without security cameras in Western Europe either. Mosques are prime targets for all kinds of hate crimes, so they're obviously going to use surveillance to protect themselves.
> * I was watched everywhere, except the great wall - but I was told cameras are being constructed there too. The feeling I had was like being in the forest of District 12 of the Hunger Games, I felt free there.
Next time you're in China, try taking the subway to somewhere out in the periphery and then just walk in a random direction for an hour or so. You're going to see a China that is much less surveilled, without police; a China that is dirtier, poorer and in a way more honest than what you see if you just tick off the famous tourist spots. You'll still be watched, of course; not by cameras, but by ordinary Chinese citizens who don't get to see a foreigner everyday.
Here is a picture of one set of cameras around the mosque, which did not seem normal to us. My cousin pointed it out and we laughed at the blatant violation of privacy we saw - saying they don't even hide the fact they are watching https://imgur.com/a/8WbFxBi
and I'm not sure its fair to say I stayed in tourist areas, I was an hour and a half outside of town, and we ventured into poor areas of SH.
Somewhere down here, for example: https://www.google.com/maps/place/31.031362,+121.472129/@31.... Not a lot of surveillance cameras in an area where people live next to open sewage ditches. (Those don't really stand out in the satellite image, so the location is only very approximate.)
Why not? A Subway casualty could be much more serious than a single plane. It's thousands vs hundreds.
> They didn't even hide its surveillance.
They shouldn't, right?
Finally, the only (scary) things really specific to China you list are the milice and the fact they clearly told you have no privacy right.
There’s definitely a privacy issue there but it’s close to impossible to raise the awareness of Chineses unless something drastic happens.
Edit: Perhaps I have a low bar of human right issues but those you described doesn’t seem like red flag to me
This applies in the US too in most cities I’ve done business in. Some hotels don’t enforce the ordinances, but the hotel is supposed verify who is staying at the hotel, along with license plate numbers of vehicles the guest has. Also, I wouldn’t want to stay in a hotel that doesn’t check rooms periodically (at least once per week), as that is a recipe for meth cooking and hoarders bringing pests into the building and numerous other problems.
A quick google search shows many town ordinances such as this one:
>Guest register. Every innkeeper shall at all times keep and maintain on the premises of hotel a guest register in which shall be inscribed the name and home address of each guest and shall contain such guest's vehicle description and license plate state and number.
"On June 22, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded in City of Los Angeles v. Patel that a Los Angeles ordinance requiring hoteliers to keep and maintain guest registries and to make them available to the police upon request violated the hoteliers Fourth Amendment rights. "
Hotels need to be on the good side of the police.
That they note that you don't have a right to privacy is the only odd part. It's fairly common around the world to have to present your passport / passport details at hotels for their records. It's definitely not strange that China's hotels would require that.
I think that response is moving the goalpost.
I noted that it's common throughout the world that hotels often require passport details. Your response to that is to change the issue in question to the consequences of non-compliance and away from what you initially presented as the problem ("you must register your passport or state ID").
Is your goal to argue? I don't get it.
His goal is to point out that you said "in China they tell you you need to register at hotels", and when he answered that that's the case in the US and other countries too, you expanded your question to "Does the police show up if you don’t register in Other countries they do in China".
That's normally called "moving the goalposts".
Now you're implying that they have some further motive, or just "want to agree".
Well, they wanted to point a flaw in your original argument (that implied it's somehow unique to China to have you register at hotels). Are they allowed to?
* Cartoons - https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91dnIHIQXfL...
* The Red Armbands - https://www.patriotguard.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/pgr_...
* Passport check - https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/05/who-lives-in-border-p...
* Police everywhere. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8G7XsjSzRo
* I saw a a mosque surrounded by security cameras. https://www.aclu.org/other/factsheet-nypd-muslim-surveillanc...
* I was watched everywhere - i could go on and on... PRISM, security cameras everywhere, Ring doorbell cams being given to cops, stingray, etc etc etc etc etc
* Signs in the Hotel warn you that you DO NOT have a right to privacy, and you must register your passport or state ID - Same in the US
at least China is open about it, and has tons of socialist policies so people don't die from poverty.
or maybe they'll just steal the tech via NSA/CIA? no better way to evaluate your adversary than dogfooding their tech.
I think the worry with this new form of authoritarianism is that it will be so good no one will have the chance to stop it.
"China's super camera can pinpoint a specific individual among thousands of people"
I think an implicit assumption behind fears from surveillance systems is that our society relies on small rule breaking all the time and human judgment is needed to smooth out the rough edges and be flexible. If 100% enforcement becomes the norm, the laws need to be much more precise with many more exceptions and clarifications.
The other issue of course is that many laws are not written according to normal people's interests, so their 100% enforcement would harm society.
Precisely. And individually, we all have different ideas of which are acceptable to break regularly, which we're generally indifferent about, and which should be considered absolute.
The prospect of absolute enforcement sounds great when used against something you agree with, like failing to pick up dog poop.
Probably not-so-great when used to enforce one of the rules you personally break regularly. I'm sure you can think of several, and I might only agree with half.
> If 100% enforcement becomes the norm, the laws need to be much more precise with many more exceptions and clarifications.
I think it's the opposite. We need fewer laws with less precision. Too many laws are effectively "How not to be a dick all the time or endanger other people." But what constitutes being a dick or endangering someone is often more situational than a bright-line "Never do X."
Nevermind that we have so many laws it's impossible for anyone to be sure they haven't already broken one today.
I'm sure there is a good middle ground that can be reached. The more we automate, the less we leave ambiguous. Because even though ambiguity enables us to be civil towards one another in the form of understanding "context", it also allows a lot of genuine bad behavior to occur and also inevitably leaves loopholes for bad actors.
Once upon a hypothetical time, beyond the statute of limitations, I was on a motorcycle and made a perfectly safe but illegal pass of another vehicle. Not at all dissimilar to this video. As I completed the perfectly safe pass that negatively affected no one, the driver of the passed vehicle sped up, crossed the solid center line to get beside me, then quickly swerved into the space I was occupying. After failing to force me to crash, they harassed me with their vehicle until we got to a place where I had the opportunity to turn to get away from them, where they then swerved at me again, tried to force me to stop... and I finally, hypothetically, decided to raise my jacket and make my legally carried firearm visible. They immediately, and quite dangerously, turned around and fled.
Now, that's just the setup. Put aside for a moment whatever you think about motorcyclists in general, motorcyclists ignoring road laws, road ragers, guns, self-defense, "instant justice", and then read on.
I shared this story on a forum related to the nearest city, a place with a rapidly growing super-Liberal techie hippie population surrounded by pro-Trump people. The VAST majority of the responses were that I should have anticipated that reaction, that I incited it and deserved it, that my breaking of a road law was equivalent to attempted vehicular manslaughter. Several people claimed to have reported me to law enforcement. They specifically wanted me "brought to justice" and couldn't care less about the other person.
That's what I think of when you suggest there's a good middle ground. Some people think attempted vehicular manslaughter is ok and that an instant extra-judicial death sentence is a reasonable punishment for making an improper pass.
The people behind China's Social Credit system surely think it's a good idea, that they're finding a good middle ground, that tying it in to mass public surveillance and automated detection of certain public crimes will make their society better.
If you disagree with the Chinese system, how can you possible believe that another society can manage to do it better? Especially if you're in America, which has its own rich history of using State power to oppress groups of people? Particularly of groups we'd call Dissidents were they in a different country.
To me, this is the slippery-est of slippery slopes. The State can't be trusted to find a good middle ground and the people are even worse. It's the stuff of 1984-brought-to-life-and-was-actually-optimistic nightmares. The beginning of a new "First they came for the..." poem.
I actually believe China is the playground for the future, unfortunately.
Playing cyberpunk games, etc got me into computers.
I suspect that sort of techno-curiosity and infatuation with tech is what brought many of us to the industry.
I’ve helped build tracking and spying systems my whole career under the guise of “data”
That dystopian reality of every single thing you do, see, seek has spread like a cancer into every aspect of our lives.
Heck, there are even stories (I haven’t confirmed their veracity) of people being attacked by governments for attempting to be totally off grid.
It is completely impossible to detach from the system.
I recall when we used to talk about Eschelon in the 80s and 90s and nobody believe our crackpot conspiracy theories then.
But now the we are many generations beyond the original Eschelon, it’s been hyper-normalized, and there is nothing you can do about it, because-fuck-you-that$-why
So, I don’t have any “whataboutism” - many brilliant minds have been exploited for authoritarian profits, and you can’t escape the world we have all worked to create through evolving technology.
high tech surveillance in the US has been going on for a while, the mentioned book by Arthur Michel is a recommended read.
China is literally selling their surveillance tech (with backdoors of course) to Western local government...
But in the real world it is super frustrating, was having a conversation with someone the other day that was trying to to make that exact kind of whataboutism with Apple and Huawei. They just did not see it as categorically different, no matter what you believe apple can and has done, that Huawei is essentially owned by the CCP 
so just to play devils advocate here, say someone is Chinese and wants to post on HN and has a pro-government view of his own country, which is quite common, you're saying they don't even need to bother posting?
It's always interesting to see where the tolerance of opinion ends.
Anybody with that kind of background care to comment on whether or not china is actually an unliveable totalitarian regime where your rights are constantly trampled on, on a daily basis?
> say someone is Chinese and wants to post on HN and has a pro-government view of his own country, which is quite common, you're saying they don't even need to bother posting?
I don't think I am saying that and I don't think that what I described implies that.
If pro CCP comments are flagged, downvoted and responded to, that doesn't mean pro CCP commenters don't have the ability to or _shouldn't_ post a defence of their own country. In fact for people to downvote, flag or respond to pro CCP comments requires that they bother posting a defence of the CCP harvesting organs , beating up HK protestors , ethnically cleansing the Uyghur , or implementing a social credit system  - in the first place.
I suppose this comes down to how we define tolerance and disagreement. I think that downvotes, flags and responses are signs of disagreement rather than intolerance. While upvotes are signs of agreement.
Should a pro CCP commenter feel bothered to post a defence of their own country? If what makes them feel bothered to post is when people are likely to agree with their defence, then no. However, if what makes them feel bothered is just their belief that anti CCP comments are wrong about something, then of course they should still feel bothered to post their defence because nothing about flags, responses or downvotes stops one from holding a belief. But their posting of that belief doesn't mean we have to agree with it .
Though, maybe in this case the mass downvoting of a single opinion is a genuine intolerance of opinion.
If so, then where the tolerance of opinion ends is far too late.
-  https://chinatribunal.com
-  https://gfycat.com/slimymetallicblackfootedferret
-  https://i.redd.it/rrnd6wxb9li31.gif
-  https://v.redd.it/vlvuyx4n1wk31/DASH_360?source=fallback
-  https://v.redd.it/xs79vkkzojh31/DASH_360?source=fallback
-  https://boingboing.net/2019/09/22/sundials-are-everywhere.html
-  https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/1/18246297/china-transportation-people-banned-poor-social-credit-planes-trains-2018
-  https://xkcd.com/1357/
The intensity of disregard of political opinions concerning China hasn't anything to do with the opinions themselves, because I read way stranger stuff on HN every day. It's that it's an American website that puts much higher scrutiny on opinions held by perceived US adversaries.
Im about to say something to illustrate this bias please think before you react. Additionally I don't actually believe what I'm about to say.
"The Holocaust wasn't that detrimental to society. This is just my opinion, feel free to disagree with my points in a civil way."
The statement is neutral and civil but the word Holocaust ignites an incindiary bias that has no basis in logic because the logic behind why isn't even stated yet. Theoretically such a comment should not receive any downvotes based on the premise alone, yet knowing how people are, it will get voted down.
Replace Holocaust with taxes, bitcoins, or a more neutral word and the votes will shift. This is the same kind of phenomenon that is affecting comments about the CCP. Your bias prevents you from recognizing what is civil and what is not.
It is not about civility or incivility. It is about facilitating real and valid criticsm. Supporting a state with explicit censorship policies and a track record of suppressing riots with violence as well as an active monopoly on communication and payment channels, which results in a lot of leverage on individual behavior, is antithetical to this purpose.
Where the whatsboutism ends with the United States is that the United States has (thusfar) kept most criticsm-worthy acts on the record and still has no clear monopoly on the flow of information. It allows the existence of institutions that actively work against the policies of the government. That puts it on a relatively higher moral standing compared to the CCP as long as you care about such things as having a plurality of opinions. Where tolerance stops is where you support ending the game.
Mount this to a drone and have it fly over a forest or a farm.
Have it count the insect population, say number of bees. Or insects in total.
Have it identify the number of a certain type of crop, tree, plant or whatever.
Connect it to (I don’t know the term for it) where it can determine the health of the plant or tree. Have it fly over wild areas and count the population of elk, deer, cattle, whatever.
Teach it to identify and map out potholes in roads automatically
Things of this nature.
Fuck facial targets in a stadium.