A misconfigured online database has exposed new details of China’s tyrannical surveillance apparatus, which the country’s government has used to further suppress one of its most persecuted populations.
In the past year, there’s been an uptick of reporting on China’s oppression of the Uyghurs. In August, for instance, Business Insider detailed how the mostly Muslim minority group, largely confined to China’s Xinjiang region, came to occupy “one of the most intrusive police states in the world.” That same month, a story in the Atlantic described how a million Turkic Muslims in China are being detained in so-called interment camps; forced, on top of being tortured and killed, to renounce the very faith that underpins their social identity—to adopt in its place a philosophy more consistent with that of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Here we see, at gunpoint, the involuntary “re-education” of entire communities and the manual obliteration of a culture through an apartheid predicated on extreme religious prejudice. Nothing could be worse.
Behind all of this is a grotesque technological achievement whereby billions of dollars have been poured into the intensive monitoring of a people who, by the sheer mathematics of it all, could pose no real extremist threat to the security of the Red Giant. There’s no question that China has unleashed a surveillance apparatus unprecedented in its scale to collect even the most granular details about the daily lives of its citizens. New examples of that seem to arrive each day.
This week, one security researcher reportedly found himself peering through the looking glass after stumbling upon a massive database reportedly controlled by a Chinese firm called SenseNets, which had inadvertently left its shades undrawn.