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China’s Algorithm of Oppression

News. Human Rights Watch (HRW) got access to an app, “Integrated Joint Operations Platform” (IJOP), which they say the Chinese authority in the western Xinjiang region uses to surveil and categorise the local population. By ‘reverse engineering’ HRW was able to identity the criteria that the Chines authorities use to maintain social order.

The Chinese authorities are collecting massive amounts of personal information—from the color of a person’s car to their height down to the precise centimeter—and feeding it into the IJOP central system, linking that data to the person’s national identification card number, according to HRW:

“Our analysis also shows that Xinjiang authorities consider many forms of lawful, everyday, non-violent behavior—such as “not socializing with neighbors, often avoiding using the front door”—as suspicious. The app also labels the use of 51 network tools as suspicious, including many Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and encrypted communication tools, such as Viber or Telegram.”

According the HRW, the Chinese authority is tracking the movement of people by monitoring the “trajectory” and location data of their phones, ID cards, and vehicles; it is also monitoring the use of electricity and gas stations of everybody in the region. If citizens use more electricity than “normal,” when they leave the area in which they are registered to live without police permission, or if they obtain a new phone number or have foreign links, the system flags these “micro-clues” to the authorities as suspicious and prompts an investigation.

The app also scores government officials on their performance in fulfilling tasks and is a tool for higher-level supervisors to assign tasks to, and keep tabs on the performance of, lower-level officials, according to HRW.

Since late 2016, the Chinese government has subjected the 13 million ethnic Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang to mass arbitrary detention, forced political indoctrination, restrictions on movement, and religious oppression according to HRW and other reports.

Get the full HRW report

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