China’s policy analysts and technology regulators have recently attempted to understand the U.S. threats to banning TikTok and WeChat. What do the requirements of such a ban mean for technical regulation? If the US government is willing to exert such an influence over private cellular operators, what could it mean for other forms of data? Is a swap game of app bans really a useful way to enforce data protection without applying a broader set of rules like the general data protection regulation of Europe? What does a blanket ban – for surveillance reasons but with no technical evidence – mean in light of the fact that the US continues to use “sanctioned” surveillance hardware by Chinese companies?
These are all legitimate questions if you still believe we live in a functioning democracy. The Trump administration’s bans on WeChat and TikTok as well as theClean networkThe campaign, which would ban Chinese telecommunications companies, cloud providers, and undersea cables from American internet infrastructure, should instead be seen as part of their attempt to increase the power of the executive branch. While global free market proponents worry about a fragmented Internet, they are missing the big picture: Trump’s technological authoritarianism is accelerating the growth of corporate power.
ONE Study 2018 showed that Trump’s supporters are motivated by racism, sexism and anti-Chinese sentiment. Therefore, it makes sense for the Trump administration to take a stance against China in a motion for re-election. The Beijing ghost helps fuel two main fears: a socialist “big government” and a socialist “outside influence” on American politics. The “yellow danger” narrative is racist, but what is more important is how that racism is used. With a casual nod and wink, Trump portrays China as a threat to “individual freedom” – the kind of freedom that allows white native terrorists to argue over guns in state capitals.
The opposition to the socialist left – both real and imaginary, in the US and abroad – is so feverish that some of Trump’s supporters are willing to see their fellow Americans die of the coronavirus rather than join a “big government” subject. In other words, the neoliberal views of Trump’s grassroots do not contradict authoritarian power. Rather, as theorists like Wendy Brown point out, such views deliberately dissolve and dissolve democracy society, do “Freedom a pure instrument of power.”
It has historical precedent to portray China (despite its state capitalist reality) as a formidable socialist state in order to deepen internal oppression. Before the US-Chinese “Tech Cold War” there was the actual Cold War, in which the “Third World” countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia reaffirmed their freedom of choice vis-à-vis European colonial rulers. At the time, the question for American men in the ranks of power was: would these emerging economies choose socialism or democracy?
Much of American foreign policy at the time was driven by the domino theory: the idea that other countries would do the same if a particular country opted for communism. America’s anti-Soviet foreign policy enabled political repression at home and abroad. Around 700 million US dollars were sent to South Africa alone to support an apartheid government under the guise of the “fight against communism”. During the Cold War, anti-communism became a rallying cry for brutal crackdowns on anti-war protesters, black leaders and civil rights activists. The FBI conducted covert operations and surveillance against virtually anyone who questioned US imperialism and the status quo of a segregated society, citing “communist” as a convenient charge to justify harassment and disinformation. Countless community activists and organizers have been subjected to government-led smear campaigns led by Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee.
According to historian Clarence Lang, anti-communist efforts were not only directed against dissidents. They also served “the interests of policymakers trying to push back the modest gains of the New Deal and block the further expansion of the liberal welfare state.”
There are parallels to our present moment. In response to the recent Black Lives Matter uprising, the Trump administration referred to mysterious left-wing agitators using narratives of “outside influence” and “anti-democratic” protests. In late June, Attorney General William Barr created a task force to “anti-government extremists, “An intentionally nebulous category that appeared to include activists against police suppression and the cancer state. Barr: “Although these extremists profess a variety of ideologies, their position is united with the fundamental values of the constitution of a democratic society governed by law.” More recently, when federal forces cracked down on protesters in Portland, Oregon, the government has continued to claim that Antifa in all its leftist glory is ruining America.
Such narratives conveniently make room for American-style surveillance – whether through predictive policing or through Monitoring protesters with social media or Predator drones. Indeed, it is worth noting that talks about de-funding and demilitarizing the police force are spreading across the United States digital surveillance has often replaced more traditional forms of policing and private government companies are happy to fill the void.
Democratic and Republican politicians point to China’s human rights violations as another reason to oppose China. For example, in 2019 Congress passed a law banning HikVision and Dahua, two surveillance technology companies proven to be linked to state violence against Uyghurs, from working on U.S. government contracts. It is imperative that there is retaliation against surveillance technology companies that exercise state authority. However, it should be well thought out legislation that understands the reality of 21st century surveillance. For example, HikVision makes products that come from non-Chinese companies like Honeywell and ABUS. These are not blocked. The 2019 law also deliberately ignores the fact that HikVision would not exist without US-approved venture capital firms like SoftBank and mutual funds like Fidelity. Reducing surveillance to a purely governmental affair allows private tech companies to thrive and neglect longer histories of racial technology-based capitalism inscribed by the US war on terror. In the meantime, HikVision cameras and temperature sensors, such as those used in Times Square, are still available to Americans consumer and Private company for sale. Other products from companies excluded from US government contracts are also widely available. Amazon warehouses Use Dahua temperature monitoring cameras.
It is significant that in the course of Trump over TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government, no technical investigation into how the app works has revealed that user information is being sent to China. A 2017 Chinese law required companies with data stored in China to provide information to the government, but TikTok has stated this The data is stored in the USA. In contrast to Europe, in which the general data protection regulation applies, there are no explicit rules on data sovereignty in the USA. This means we have to take TikTok and every other company at their word. The U.S. government’s refusal to protect its citizens’ data reflects its own desire to monitor its people Cloud Act 2018This enables the US government to request data about citizens regardless of where data is stored geographically.
If US politicians were seriously concerned about the violence of the Chinese state, they would be ready to interview and involve corporate actors – including Silicon Valley tech companies and their investors – who benefit from surveillance of Uyghurs and other groups. The Trump administration’s reluctance not only points to its own corruption, but also how it ultimately views the plight of oppressed peoples outside the United States as farmers in an electoral cycle.
For Trump’s supporters, China and “big government” activists are socialist threats that their president has finally resisted. In his appeal for another four years of power, Trump wants to cement the ties between China and the left, and between Chinese companies and the Chinese government (but not between Chinese and US companies). This type of harm is not just fear of the “other”, but an ongoing attack on democratic processes as the US government exempts itself from the actual protection of its citizens. Foreign policy abroad has justified a dismantling of democracy at home.
Judges in the United States have since issued injunctions blocking the executive order banning WeChat and TikTok in order to maintain legislative process and because they believe such bans are possible Violations of the user’s initial customization rights. However, this defense of constitutional rights serves the grander Trump narrative as the government has made governance and our democracy its enemy, aided by the threat posed by China. “Yellow Peril” is a lazy but hugely effective narrative for garnering nationalist support. Just hours after Trump tested for Covid-19, his supporters immediately accused China and insisted the United States must hold China accountable– In line with Trump’s insistence on calling it the “China virus”. “Holding China accountable” may appeal not only to its staunch supporters, but also to those voters who are fed up with our socially distant, masked new normal. In this term, we cannot ignore how narratives have been shaped and twisted to address a variety of fears. Trump’s promise of “America First” depended on isolating us in the world with walls and all kinds of prohibitions. Still, we need to keep connecting the dots across boundaries and imaginaries and sift through narratives for what they are. Our democracy can depend on it.