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China's Web Surveillance System Employs More Than 2 Million

timothy posted about 7 months ago | from the what-you're-in-favor-of-unemployment? dept.

Censorship 63

Reader dryriver recommends a BBC report on the immense scale of the web-monitoring system in place in China. An excerpt: "More than two million people in China are employed by the government to monitor web activity, state media say, providing a rare glimpse into how the state tries to control the internet. The Beijing News says the monitors, described as internet 'opinion analysts,' are on state and commercial payrolls. China's hundreds of millions of web users increasingly use microblogs to criticise the state or vent anger. Recent research suggested Chinese censors actively target social media. The report by the Beijing News said that these monitors were not required to delete postings. They are "strictly to gather and analyse public opinions on microblog sites and compile reports for decision-makers", it said. It also added details about how some of these monitors work. Tang Xiaotao has been working as a monitor for less than six months, the report says, without revealing where he works. 'He sits in front of a PC every day, and opening up an application, he types in key words which are specified by clients. He then monitors negative opinions related to the clients, and gathers (them) and compiles reports and sends them to the clients,' it says. The reports says the software used in the office is even more advanced and supported by thousands of servers. It also monitors websites outside China."

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63 comments

Job creation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45043967)

The easiest way to create jobs is by increasing red tape.

Re:Job creation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044085)

The easiest way to create jobs is to hire everyone to spy on their neighbors.

Re:Job creation (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 7 months ago | (#45044259)

The easiest way to create jobs is by increasing red tape.

This is a variant of the broken window fallacy [wikipedia.org]. Government "make work" schemes tend to shift labor and resources from other areas of the economy rather than generating net new jobs.

Re:Job creation (2)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about 7 months ago | (#45048083)

It depends on how public works are paid for and what is going on in the rest of the economy at the time. Consider the situation of too little cash is in the real economy, and too much cash is in the "casino" economy of the FIRE sector (much of it rich people gambling with teach other in zero-sum games). I would say that is the case today -- there is lots of money floating around but it could be all stuffed into mattresses for the effect it is having on our economy. In that case, a government printing money to pay for public works puts money immediately in the hands of many people who will spend it in the real goods economy. Any extra inflation will have the positive effect on the economy of sucking money as a tax out of the casino economy. Higher inflation also forces those with huge bank balances earning no interest to inject that money into the economy as investments or consumption rather than lose it to inflation.

By the way, I put together a lot of possibilities on dealing with joblessness here, and yes, increasing pointless bureaucracy was one of them:
http://www.pdfernhout.net/beyond-a-jobless-recovery-knol.html [pdfernhout.net]
"Here is a list of possible ways to deal with joblessness.[53] Some "cures" emerge mostly on their own; some require political action to start or to prevent. This list is intended to be complete in order to help in understanding the interaction between social changes and job creation; not all possibilities are desirable by most societies. The ones in the first half of the list (like wage subsidies, a shorter work week, or a basic income) in general would usually be considered more positive and adaptive responses than the ones in the second half of the list (like war, escapism, and luddism), although actual preferences or ordering of desirability and acceptability may vary depending on political beliefs and feelings about things like government intervention and taxation. Many of the items in the second half of the list have profit-making aspects for some individuals within the current economic system, although usually directly at the cost of others in society (like crime). Not all items on this list are compatible with each other. Not all might be considered moral or would be legal under international law or existing trade agreements. Some of these "cures" create new jobs (like public works), others make it easier to survive without a job (like frugality), others eliminate the unemployed individuals from the official statistics in various ways (like prisons), others in some way destroy abundance which has a side effect of creating jobs to build it back up (war), and some allow someone unemployed to take a job that someone else was doing but who no longer can do the job anymore for various reasons (like mandatory retirement). Some of the "cures" that help individuals survive without a job may actually increase the unemployment rate as they reduce demand for items in the market place produced by paid employment, contributing to overall increased joblessness even as the individual may be helped locally. Because these items may interact in unexpected ways, and people have many different feelings about them as different groups may benefit or be harmed in different ways, and many vested interests are involved, it is challenging for any economist, political scientist, politician or private citizen to make sense of all these issues or to pick a best way forward, even though people are trying in various ways to do that.[4] New approaches in social science involving computer simulation and agent-based modelling may also help in understanding the way these issues interact to gain insight into them.[54]"

after Snowden's NSA revelations... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45043973)

you can stick your anti-China bullshit up your ass.

Re:after Snowden's NSA revelations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044113)

It is still possible to fight for your view in the USA. Freedom of speech and the freedom of organizing political groups are a important differences. But the freedom of anonymity and privacy might be more similar.

Another difference is the degree of separation between politics and the court system. I hope both countries will improve.

Re:after Snowden's NSA revelations... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 7 months ago | (#45044197)

Look on the bright side.

Bitching on the internet works for affecting the decision makers . and they said that it's useless to bitch and moan on the internet!

Re:after Snowden's NSA revelations... (2)

Shavano (2541114) | about 7 months ago | (#45044245)

One can hope.

The legitimate use of this is, "Here's a list of the top 20 things that people are really angry about."
The illegitimate use is, "Here's a list of the first 20,000 people to arrest in Wuhan."

Re:after Snowden's NSA revelations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044211)

I'm anti-China and anti-USA and live in neither place. What do you say to that?

Re: after Snowden's NSA revelations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45046715)

What are you pro? Otherwise you're just backing into a corner...

Re:after Snowden's NSA revelations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044235)

If this is anti-China, then the Snowden reporting is anti-USA

Re:after Snowden's NSA revelations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044323)

Hao! Shuo de hao~ li ke hui kuan!

Re:after Snowden's NSA revelations... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45047131)

China must have just started these activities because Snowden never would have run to a country that spies on its citizens. Why, that would make him a massive hypocrite! Maybe he went to China first, was shocked to find that they spy on their own people, then decided to run to Russia where they would never spy on their citizens. After all, it means SO much to him, his integrity, his ideals. He's my hero.

Don't you know you are my heeeee-roooooo....

More than 2 million? (1)

lxs (131946) | about 7 months ago | (#45044013)

Better watch out. Before you know it USA is no longer number one. [newstalk.ie]

Re:More than 2 million? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | about 7 months ago | (#45044411)

What about 5 millons [salon.com], if you count private sector and not top security clearance? And of those 2 millons with top security clearance, half a millon are from the private sector. No matter what numbers have China, US ones are far bigger, and with less population.

And, of course, is not that most international internet traffic passes through China, nor most internationally used internet companies are based on that country and have to follow their laws giving all the information of their customers.

Re:More than 2 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45046185)

Yes, because everyone with a security clearance is employed in spying on other people, and not, say, engineering work for defense subcontractors.

Re:More than 2 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45047191)

Because NSA/CIA, etc have ALWAYS been honest with how much they spend, what they do, right?

2+2=5 (3, Interesting)

iamwhoiamtoday (1177507) | about 7 months ago | (#45044029)

The Ministry Of Truth employs many members of The Party.

Words are frightening (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044285)

When did words become so frightening that we need to be watched 24/7, lest we say something dangerous?

Re:Words are frightening (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044383)

Ever since the pen was mightier than the sword.

So what about the US ? (2)

Lennie (16154) | about 7 months ago | (#45044047)

Supposedly it was approximately 854,000 people in 2010:

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/38304293/ns/us_news-security/t/report-firms-agencies-involved-war-terror/ [nbcnews.com]

Re:So what about the US ? (2)

ZouPrime (460611) | about 7 months ago | (#45044087)

That's the number of people with Top Secret clearance, some times necessary to merely work on some governments projects. It's not really a meaningful number at all (it certainly doesn't has anything to do with "people employed to monitor web traffic").

Re:So what about the US ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044103)

Chinese State Media
IS also suffering from a disproportionate number of israeli-linked correspondents, editors, et.al both at CCTV`s French, Arabic, and English wires.

dunno if the Chinese are better prepared to *arrest,sieze,and deport AIPAC assets* than the Obama admin-castration

Way to go, China (5, Interesting)

Fusselwurm (1033286) | about 7 months ago | (#45044117)

Only? 2M informants is no more than 0.2% of the population.

Compare that to the East German Stasi [wikipedia.org], who had ~0.5% full time on their payrolls (about 100k of 16M ppl), plus ~3% of unpaid whisperers...

Re:Way to go, China (3, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45044863)

Keep in mind that the number given for China is only the people that monitor web traffic. It doesn't include the secret police and their many informers. I doubt that overall China is less organized in that regard than East Germany was.

It is also worth noting that China has far more brutality in its past than East Germany. The People's Republic of China managed to kill about 65,000,000 [harvard.edu] of its own citizens. There are even instances of cannibalism as a demonstration or test of party loyalty - "eating the rich," so to speak.

East Germany's communist government is no longer in power. That same Chinese government is still in power, engages in massive espionage by spy and computer against many nations, is aiming nuclear missiles at the US, is building a fleet of aircraft carriers, claiming the territory of its neighbors, and many people say it will be the main power of the next century. Pleasant dreams.

Re:Way to go, China (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 7 months ago | (#45045173)

Technology has improved, one person can now monitor far more communications than they did back in the Stasi days.

China transparency (5, Interesting)

GrahamJ (241784) | about 7 months ago | (#45044143)

It's somewhat disturbing that China is more forthcoming about its domestic spying than the US. At least they admit that they do it.

Re:China transparency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044277)

Let's remember this logic for future discussion.
"At least the USA admits to domestic wiretapping" (unlike European countries that still do so in secret)
"At least the USA admits to wanting Snowden arrested" (unlike Russia that just pokes you with some polonium)
See? USA is not so bad. Everybody in those discussion threads can then be labeled anti-USA.

Re: China transparency (1)

GrahamJ (241784) | about 7 months ago | (#45048371)

The US didn't admit to that without being forced to, and Russia must not want Snowden arrested since that's where he is and he's not arrested. Anyway my point isn't that China is great, it's that it's sad the US is actually worse at anything.

Re: China transparency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45048525)

If USA is worse, then Americans would be using euphemisms like Chinese people do to refer to government, the party in charge, and various policing organizations for fear of being accosted. Also, your "at least they're honest" argument is a fallacious one as it sidesteps the differences in the actual depth of censorship and surveillance between the two countries, and relies on a logic that is rarely accepted when applied to other discussion, for example, on the Republican party -- as your logic would conclude, "at least the GOP is honest about screwing you" so we should likewise focus on and lament over the apparent downfall of the Democratic party. But of course we both know using the same argument in THAT context would never fly. Which is why it's a bad argument.

Re:China transparency (0)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45044899)

Nobody is going to stop the Chinese government from that spying so they lose nothing by it. The Chinese Communist Party is firmly in control. Also note that they are only admitting to what they do internally, just for micro-blogging, not the rest of the web. If you are somehow thinking that the Chinese government is more virtuous than the US government, you are very far off base. Very far.

Re:China transparency (1)

GrahamJ (241784) | about 7 months ago | (#45047021)

Quite the reverse - that China is more transparent about *anything* is an indictment of the US given how opaque their government tends to be.

Re:China transparency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45048943)

Nobody is going to stop the Chinese government from that spying so they lose nothing by it.

And by comparison, now that NSA domestic spying is out in the open, who's lifting a finger to stop them?

Your blind faith in your country is commendable. Are you also, perchance, working for them?

Re:China transparency (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#45046643)

Why would China reveal this information? It's not because they want to be kind. You have to ask yourself, what are they getting from it?

Re:China transparency (3, Insightful)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 7 months ago | (#45046945)

lol, they aren't doing this to be open and forthright. They are doing this to let the population know that they are monitoring everything they do on the internet. It's just a slick way to oppress dissent.

Re: China transparency (1)

GrahamJ (241784) | about 7 months ago | (#45048389)

You might be right. So we have China being open about spying to prevent dissent and we have the US hiding spying to avoid dissent. Maybe some government should try, you know, not spying. It's odd that not doing things people dissent against doesn't seem to occur to those in power.

Re: China transparency (1)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about 7 months ago | (#45048507)

I'm not aware of any country that does not employ spies. It's an essential government function; a necessary evil.

And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044193)

2 billion people in china so 2 million is only 1 percent. Lava china alone!

Maybe we should NOT be outsourcing this (3, Insightful)

Provocateur (133110) | about 7 months ago | (#45044213)

I don't know; just sayin'

Re:Maybe we should NOT be outsourcing this (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45047927)

This is the Chinese government spying on its own people for the purposes of political repression, which has been the case there from the beginning. In fact the Communist Chinese government has quite of history of brutal repression. If you are "just sayin" anything other than that you are saying something stupid.

Re:Maybe we should NOT be outsourcing this (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | about 7 months ago | (#45057247)

He was joking that the US outsourced it's surveillance to China because labor there is cheaper.

Re:Maybe we should NOT be outsourcing this (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45058081)

Yes, I got that. I simply thought it was a stupid joke that wasn't worth the moderation.

Does this include censorship as well (1)

fa2k (881632) | about 7 months ago | (#45044289)

I reckon there are a lot of people looking for "objectionable" pages and censoring them, wonder if these are counted. I wouldn't expect it to be a large fraction of 2 M though, unless it happens on a more local level than for all of China.

Unrelated, but what's this talk about "clients"? do they do it for paying customers too?

not just reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044329)

It's not just reporting, just watch the comments on any news article that comes up that paints China in any negative light. Immediate attacks on the source, or attempts to divert the conversations and get people in the comments arguing back and forth.

Just like in the JEW-S-A (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044433)

What are the Chinese government so afraid of? The TRUTH, obviously. So they have to keep their 'cattle' in line, by silencing any dissent.
Just like in the Jew-occupied USA, where your free speech is being slowly taken away from you, in case any of the Jews' 'cattle' wake up and start fighting back.

China is a giant gulag, a prison labor camp. What do you expect from people who slaughter animals and torture them in the most foul manner possible? A nice, happy country?

I'm sure one of the little quislings of Slashdot will mod this post down, so that nobody reads it. Why not move to China and get PAID for silencing dissent...

So where is my Job? (1)

jftitan (736933) | about 7 months ago | (#45044509)

  With all this information about "Monitoring" I know the NSA needs more people to "Monitor" the internets.

  I need to look into that USAjob.gov website and look for specifics like "Reading Slashdot, Reddit, 9gag all day long for entry level government salary" I would totally rock that in a suit and tie.

Congratulations to US corps (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about 7 months ago | (#45044601)

this great part is that the majority of software that is used for censorship is developed right here in the US. the truth is that it's raw capitalism that is helping oppress the chinese people which completely subverts the freedom of others that we so greatly cherish.

moral, ethical or even legal behavior with any foresight is not in the nature of true capitalism and yet we continue to allow these practices to continue. in true capitalism, snakes would continually eat their own tails with no thought of the repercussions if it made a buck. at the end, we get things like the massive economic collapse because banks "didn't see it coming".

i dont like the government messing with my affairs but there are sometimes when we need to prevent both our and others' destruction and oppression with some regulation. if there is a customer that wants a product to do evil, there will be some corporation willing to support them if it's profitable.

I wonder... (1)

olip85 (1770514) | about 7 months ago | (#45044693)

I wonder what percentage of the US population works in things related to the NSA spying program.

Re:I wonder... (-1, Flamebait)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45044957)

For the NSA? They are reported to have between 30,000 - 40,000 employees for everything that they do. Outside contracts will bump that up a bit, but it isn't going to get anywhere close to 2,000,000. Also note that the Chinese revelation is only for microblogging - essentially people watching Twitter or Twitter like services. That actual number of web monitors they have is probably quite a bit higher.

Re:I wonder... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45047943)

Apparently the limited number of employees of the NSA is now "flamebait."

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45049569)

who knows, maybe its because you missed the posters point of comparing the percentage of population, IE: 2 million chinese versus their population around 1.3-1.4 billion would be 0.14%, if counting near the high end, of their population is devoted to surveillance of the rest on the internet when counting the ones in the article at least.

now not counting contractors, going by your numbers, the NSA would comprise about 0.0095% to 0.012% (rounding the US population to 314mil) of the population, so much smaller as a percentage of the population while comprising all of their SIGINT operations, not just domestic surveillance.

Of course, it would probably be very interesting to get that with the number of contractor employees contracted by the NSA, but it'd have to be a pretty huge number compared to core employees for it to compare numerically. How you would count cooperative corporations in this, i have no idea. Only thing one could really say is that the number of people involved is potentially an order of magnitude less than in China if adjusted for population.

Re:I wonder... (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 7 months ago | (#45050801)

I doubt that it is because I "missed the point." If anything I think it is more the reverse, which is pointing out the disparity which you capture. Just a limited slice of the surveillance in the Chinese police state dwarfs the total US signals intelligence effort in headcount. And then they are performing a function that doesn't really exist in the US at that. Some people get angry at the very idea that the US might not be, "teh worst thing eva."*

*I hate that I wrote that, but I think it captures the mindset.

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45046845)

US population? Don't you mean world population?

Something like 60% of the world population works for the NSA unpaid by exercising their non-existing rights.

That includes you and me. Mostly we help out with improving the automated profiling.

The true face of 'large government' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45044891)

This has NOTHING to do with China, or the usual anti-China propaganda the owners of Slashdot love to spout. This is simply another example of what always happens when you have a LARGE government.

If you let ANY government create endless rules and powers for itself, it will grow and grow and grow those departments responsible for such powers. See the NSA or Obama shut-down projects for examples from the USA. No aspect of American society needs or requires FULL SURVEILLANCE. No aspect of the budget battle required public spaces to be closed down or barricaded. But big government means a monster that thinks people serve it, not the other way round.

Once you start the slippery slope of ANY big government program/project, filthy perverted individuals are drawn to it for power and money reasons, and seek to grow the project ever larger, so the impact on the lives of ordinary people becomes greater day by day. The original logic behind the project is forgotten pretty much after day one.

The more the department grows, the more power and money it gains, and the more money and power it gains, the more it grows. The US armed forces are the worst example of this principle. The US war machine actually seeks to create genocidal wars across the globe to justify its existence. Do any of you sheeple think anyone profiting from the US war machine wants fewer wars or a smaller army? Any of you really that thick?

And government jobs are GOOD JOBS, very very good jobs. Early retirement. Excellent benefits. The shortest working week (when you take account of all the 'sick' days government employees are expected to take). Yes, if you are really good, there are much better jobs in the private sector, but if you are Mr or Ms average sheeple, you can do no better than to jump onto the large government gravy train.

All across the West, the LAST significant unions with any power are the public sector unions. The same large governments worked to crush the power of private sector unions.

Of course China employs ever larger amounts of people to spy- it follows the ideals of the NSA to a tee. Just that in China, it makes more sense to be labour intensive. And better- having legions of real people spying creates individual trained trojan horses that change society around themselves- except the psychology of populations doesn't quite work like that- see old Soviet nations for examples.

The NSA removes the Human dimension for a VERY good reason. The monsters that rules the USA are vastly more sophisticated at understanding the psychology of power. Spreading the overt psychological responsibility of rule by large government to the general population is ALWAYS self-defeating. The Chinese rulers are backward primitives compared to the US monsters.

Ah, ok. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45045013)

It all starts making sense to me now. There's a simple case of penis envy on the part of NSA.

Karma (2)

nospam007 (722110) | about 7 months ago | (#45045579)

"these monitors were not required to delete postings. They are "strictly to gather and analyse public opinions on microblog sites and compile reports for decision-makers"

They are meta-moderators, if somebody's karma goes to bad, the brute squad is sent automatically without their doing.

What is the difference? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#45045873)

Not much different from NSA, just without direct access to information form US companies, so more people needed

lots of people (1)

smithcl8 (738234) | about 7 months ago | (#45047745)

Really puts into perspective the number of people there are in China.....that's the population of Chicago, just doing one job. Holy smokes.....

Wow, just wow ... (1)

garry_g (106621) | about 7 months ago | (#45052673)

... even in that area, China generates more jobs than the US ... I wonder how many of those jobs have been outsourced by the NSA ... ;)

Why is this even an issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45077625)

Quick question: when did "searching the internet for public information" count as spying? What, am I spying right now because I can Ctrl-F this page for "spying"?

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