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Privacy May Finally Be Starting to Matter in China

January 8, 2018

Baidu is being sued over allegations of spying on its users—the latest sign that Chinese citizens are beginning to question surveillance.

What's happened: A consumer protection group in eastern China has sued Baidu for collecting personal data without consent. According to the group, two mobile apps developed by Baidu (a search app and a browser) can gain access to users’ messages, contact lists, location services, and phone calls without their consent. Baidu denies the claim.

The bigger picture: Surveillance technologies that make use of highly personal data, such as facial recognition, have become pervasive in China with little public debate. Last week, the New York Times reported on a series of privacy outcries involving Tencent and Alibaba. The Baidu news is the latest sign that things may be starting to change.

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Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

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