More tech firms leaving China should not come as surprise: Analyst

Posted by News Express | 5 November 2021 | 472 times

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Due to restrictions under China's Great Firewall policy, more tech companies jumping ship from the country should come as no surprise, according to a Turkish-based digital communication expert.

Saying that technology and internet companies are not pulling out of China due to losing money, Nabat Garakhanova told Anadolu Agency that instead, companies are balking at Chinese government rules for protecting people's personal data.

This week both US-based web giant Yahoo and Epic Games' popular battle game Fortnite pulled out of China.

Last month, Microsoft-owned LinkedIn said it will end operations in China due to "greater compliance requirements," while Google left in 2010, and Facebook and Twitter have both been blocked for more than a decade.

The country also restricts online gaming for children under age 18 to three hours a week, and then only on the weekends.

Garakhonava said that China is a huge market with a population of 1.5 billion and a 70.6% internet usage ratio, which equals a staggering 1 billion people.

Incredible penalties

Over the last two decades, China saw something akin to a revolution, when first the country brought in technology thanks to its low-cost workforce then succeeded in creating its own technology environment.

"China has its own (versions of) Facebook and Twitter, so, whatever the world uses, China has an alternative, as even these world giants are fighting against these alternatives," Garakhonava explained.

In the early 2000s, China established the Great Firewall project, as if it had foreseen that the state would want to keep the internet under its own control, she said.

The Chinese government compels technology and internet companies to comply with rules on personal data and imposes heavy penalties, she stressed.

Saying that the rules are the same for both foreign and domestic firms, she added that much of what happens in China is distorted through misreporting or disinformation.

She said: "If you’re an online game creator aiming to be active in China, you have to make a facial recognition program, as companies have to know whether the person playing the game is 18 or younger.

"Breaking this law means facing incredible penalties, and no foreign company wants to take this risk."

The Great Firewall was designed by China’s Public Security Ministry to monitor internet usage, or, according to some, to censor it.

The OpenNet Initiative, which investigates, exposes, and analyzes internet filtering and surveillance practices, says that China has the most sophisticated content-filtering internet regime in the world.

While several top global websites are blocked or are not active in China, alternative Chinese sites have gained great popularity.

OpenNet said China's content-control regulations cause users to self-censor themselves.

'China protects its citizens'

Garakhanova said companies speak out about internet freedom in China because they are frankly very upset that children are limited to only three hours of gaming a week.

"As Chinese service providers comply with these conditions, while world giants are afraid of sanctions and are terminating their services, could it be something as normal as governments trying to protect their people?" she asked.

She cited a 2007 incident in which Yahoo’s stance resulted in at least two dissidents being imprisoned in the country over sharing data with Chinese authorities.

"The company's co-founder Jerry Yang even apologized to the mother of journalist Shi Tao, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison after Yahoo shared information with Chinese authorities," she said.

​​​​​​​Mentioning how some companies use techniques such as mining audio of users’ conversations to craft targeted ads, she said they cannot do such things in China, which means more tech firms ceasing operations in China should come as no surprise, she added.



(Adopted from Anadolu agency)



Source: News Express

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