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BEIJING, China, May 12, 2021 (Times of Israel) – On March 8, China launched its domestic vaccine passport, which shows a Chinese citizen’s vaccination status and virus test results via a program on Chinese social media platform WeChat.
The following day on March 9, China urged the World Health Organization (WHO) to allow Beijing to build and run a global database for “vaccine passports”, prompting fears over privacy and expansion of government surveillance.
The WeChat program and other Chinese smartphone apps include an encrypted QR code that allows authorities to obtain a traveler’s health information. The apps track a user’s location and produces a color code of green, yellow or red to indicate the likelihood of their having the virus, and whether or not the person can walk around freely. These “QR health codes” are already required to gain entry to domestic transport and many public spaces in China.
However, according to a New York Times article, using software to dictate quarantines and send personal data to police may set a dangerous precedent for automated social control, and further erodes the thin line separating China’s tech titans from the Chinese Communist Party.
Nonetheless, China’s state media Global Times made a case for Beijing’s control over a global “vaccine passport” system, citing its experience with a health code system, ability to build an international platform within one week, in time for the Tokyo Olympic Games scheduled between July 23 and August 8. China also has experience of an impressive domestic surveillance system, to boot, with over 626 million CCTV cameras for its 1.4 billion population.
Presently the problem with China’s health code system is lack of interoperability with other countries, and as such Beijing needs the WHO to internationalize Chinese standards. According to the Global Times article, Chinese public health authorities have already been studying the issue, and are concerned “whether different countries would accept the mutual recognition [of health code] remains a major issue considering that the anti-epidemic prevention measures are different with no unified evaluation and standards.”
To remedy this issue, China has launched “China Standards 2035”, a longstanding strategy to internationalize Chinese standards.
China Standards 2035—Beijing as new hegemon for global standards
Traditionally, western technology companies have set global standards—which define how technologies and industries work and their interoperability (e.g., two or more systems working together) around the world. For example, U.S. and European companies such as Qualcomm and Ericsson have been setting standards across various industries, but now China wants to set the standards for emerging industries such as AI, drones, Internet of Things, smart health and retirement, information technology equipment and interconnection, among others.
This ambition is not new, but was clearly stated when China acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 and concurrently launched its National Standardisation Strategy. Now, it is furthering this ambition via China Standards 2035.
In the China standards 2035 report, Chinese authorities expressed goals to “seize the opportunity” that Covid-19 created by proliferating China’s authoritarian information system. It aims to co-opt the global industry by capturing the industrial Internet of Things, define the next generation of information technology and biotechnology infrastructure, and export China’s social credit system.
As Beijing sees it, the Covid-19 pandemic creates a window for a radical global transformation, where new technologies and technical standards are still being formed. According to Dai Hong, Director of the Second Department of Industrial Standards of China’s National Standardization Management Committee in 2018, “This grants China’s industry and standards the opportunity to surpass the worlds.”
However, setting up an international platform may take some time, so meanwhile China is relying on bilateral cooperation. To that end, both U.S. and China are currently seeking bilateral cooperation in health issues, and the Biden administration is already working with Big Tech to adopt China’s health code system and a domestic vaccine passport, possibly using QR codes like China or something simpler such as a green check mark for vaccination status.
Other countries are following suit. Israel for one wants to be the first country to sign an agreement on mutual recognition of vaccines with China, according to Israeli Ambassador to China Irit Ben-Abba. Israel had also launched a “green pass” vaccine passport to grant its citizens the right to visit public venues such as movie theaters and stadiums, and reached agreements with Greece and Cyprus to allow “green card” holders to travel freely without being quarantined. And as more countries sign bilateral deals based on the China model, China’s vaccine passport and health system standard can eventually be internationalized.
Nonetheless, while other countries begin to mandate China’s vaccine passport model as a criterion to re-open their economies, there remain concerns about individual privacy and data security.
Data access, surveillance and personal privacy
Back in September 2020, China had launched an initiative to set global data-security rules, which supports its current bid to run the global vaccine passport system via the WHO. However, some tech experts have expressed concern with China’s standard setting ambitions. According to Horizon Advisory’s Nathan Picarsic, “China’s standards play overlaps with and intends to expand its strategy of asymmetrical access to data.” The more technology and technical standards are defined by Beijing, the more associated data will be subject to the Chinese government’s access policies, such as Beijing’s intelligence law that obligates all companies with nexus in China to share data with Chinese authorities upon request.
PETITION UPDATE (5/5/2021) - BREAKING: Facebook permanently removes LifeSiteNews’ page
Facebook has just permanently banned LifeSiteNews’ Facebook page. This apparently is not a temporary measure: It is gone for good.
"Much like when LifeSite was removed from YouTube, this comes with little surprise,” noted LifeSiteNews Marketing Director Rebekah Roberts.
"Facebook has been silencing any voice that goes against their beliefs and agenda," continued Roberts. "Our LifeSiteNews Facebook page has been removed simply because we have shared reports of doctors, nurses, expert researchers, and even the former Pfizer VP speaking out against the COVID shots. We’ve also been tagged for the numerous articles we have shared making the connection between the COVID shots, and really all vaccines, and aborted baby cell lines."
"This all comes down to another case of Big Tech silencing free speech on their platform," she added.
"At this time, I encourage those of you who are still on Facebook, Twitter, and other Big Tech platforms to continue sharing LifeSiteNews articles with your friends and family, please!” urged Roberts. “I also encourage you to follow us on these alternative platforms:"
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PETITION UPDATE (2/23/21) -
LifeSite has signed on to a Media Research Center (MRC) letter to all 50 state Attorneys General, calling for an investigation into Big Tech.
Google, Facebook, and Twitter have monopolized the industry, and are using their influence to collect user data, suppress content, and silence those who voice ideas and beliefs counter to their own.
As we urged prior, action must be taken to combat these efforts, and that is why we’ve joined the MRC in this fight.
Please take a couple of minutes to READ this LifeSiteNews article about MRC's initiative: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/lifesite-joins-effort-asking-state-attorneys-general-to-investigate-big-tech-for-deceptive-trade-practices
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PETITION UPDATE (2/9/21) -
YouTube just completely removed the LifeSiteNews YouTube channel. This isn’t a ban, every single one of our videos is completely gone. Being completely removed from YouTube means we’ve lost access to 300,000+ followers.
This is the latest and appalling affront to free speech which is happening to many conservative and Christian organizations.
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PETITION UPDATE (1/26/20) -
Twitter has again locked LifeSiteNews out of two of our accounts on the platform for displaying a message noting that President Joe Biden’s newly named Assistant Secretary of Health “Rachel” Levine is a man.
Both accounts displayed a simple message which read: “Biden names transgender ‘woman’ as Assistant Secretary of Health. ‘Rachel’ Levine is a father of two who divorced his wife in 2013 after 30 years of marriage.” The tweets also included a link to LifeSite’s article Biden names transgender ‘woman’ as Assistant Secretary of Health, and contained part of the opening sentence of that article, “Joe Biden has announced his intention to appoint a gender-confused man” as Assistant Secretary of Health.
For stating biological or Biblical truths, Twitter and Big Tech are trying to shut down conservative voices.
Therefore, it is now more important than ever to consider dumping Twitter, Google (who own YouTube) and Facebook. To be clear: LifeSite is still using Twitter and Big Tech to encourage others to migrate away from these illiberal platforms.
This is not the first time that LifeSiteNews has been censored by Twitter. In December 2019, Twitter indefinitely suspended our account for a tweet that linked to an article on transgender activist Jonathan “Jessica” Yaniv.
At the time, Twitter gave LifeSite the option to delete the tweet and reactivate our account right away. LifeSite remained steadfast that the tweet did not violate any of the company’s “rules and policies,” and sought several appeals with Twitter, while looking into legal action against the company.
And, while LifeSite's account was eventually restored, we must now consider what course of action we will pursue in this case, over and above appealing the ban.
Meanwhile, since taking office on Wednesday last week, Joe Biden has already signed an executive order which will force women’s athletic programs, restrooms, and locker rooms to be open to men. He has also turned back the Trump administration’s policy protecting women’s sports programs in schools.
Last week, LifeSite was banned for two weeks from our YouTube channel, after the site determined that one of our videos about vaccines violated YouTube’s “community guidelines.” We are also in the middle of appealing this ban.
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Twitter just deplatformed President Trump premanently! And, other conservatives, including General Flynn and Sidney Powell, were also summarily deplatformed.
Conservatives, Christians and freedom-loving Americans of all political persuasions must now take a decision to preserve their free speech AND their ability to peaceably assemble by dumping Twitter and Big Tech, and by finding other good alternatives to communicate with each other and share their opinions.
Please SIGN our petition-pledge to Dump Twitter and Big Tech, and take back your freedom of speech and privacy. [CLICK HERE for our "Goodbye Google" resources page to find good alternatives to Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, and Google!]
When you use Twitter or Facebook to communicate, and, or, Google and Amazon to search for something online, these companies can stifle your ability to share your thoughts and opinions and manipulate your search results, threatening your privacy, your freedom of speech, and even our democracy.
Evidence suggests that Twitter and Facebook's 'community guidelines' are selectively enforced against conservatives and Christians, while Google rigs their search algorithms to direct traffic away from conservative and Christian websites, effectively choking traffic to those sites.
Simply put, Twitter, Facebook, Google (who owns YouTube) and Amazon appear to be actively suppressing access to pro-freedom, pro-family and pro-life news and opinion.
Don't contribute to this assault on democracy: Stop using Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon as your default social media platforms and search engine! [CLICK HERE to find a good alternative to Google.]
To repeat: a few liberal and completely unaccountable computer programmers in Silicon Valley are dictating what we do and do not see in our Twitter and Facebook feeds, and in our Google searches.
We, here, at LifeSite, also recently had our Twitter account suspended by the company over "misgendering" a man who claims to be a woman.
LifeSite has also experienced a fall-off in Google search-related traffic since the company updated its search algorithms at the beginning of May.
And, since the November election, Twitter and Big Tech appear to have dramatically INCREASED their censorship of conservatives and Christians as the President Trump disputed the results of the election and when evidence of election fraud began to mount.
Now, it seems likely that they are trying to cut-off conservative leaders (like President Trump) from conservatives on the ground, and effectively exclude us from the national conversation.
But, this tactic will not work. Because Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon are not the only game in town! There are a good number of excellent alternatives which we list in our 'Goodbye Google' Resources page.
The great irony is that, while Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon executives talk a lot about maintaining freedom of speech and diversity, in fact, these hypocrites are ATTACKING free speech point-blank!
This kind of manipulation poses a lethal threat to our democracy, but as we see so clearly now, Twitter and Big Tech have shown no hesitation in excluding conservatives and Christians from the public square.
So, at this point, the only way to stop Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon is to quit using their platform.
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'BREAKING: Twitter permanently bans President Trump from platform' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/breaking-twitter-permanently-bans-president-trump-from-platform
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There are also concerns about mass surveillance and violation of personal privacy. For example, a New York Times’s analysis found that in China, when a user grants the health software access to personal data, a piece of the program labelled “reportInfoAndLocationToPolice” sends the person’s location, city name and an identifying code number to a server. In the U.S., this is equivalent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) using apps from Amazon and Facebook to track coronavirus and sharing user information with the local sheriff’s office. Additionally, the Times’s analysis also found scanning a person’s code sends the user’s current location to the systems servers and allows authorities to track people’s movement over time, highlighting the delicate trade-off between public safety and personal liberty.
At this juncture, it is too early to tell who will win the standards war. But as China continues to ascend in power, wealth and military might while the U.S. grapples with domestic instability and political division, it may not be long before the Middle Kingdom replaces America as the new hegemonic power, and along with that privilege, as stand-bearer for the rest of the world.
Dr. Christina Lin is a US-based foreign policy analyst specializing in China-Mediterranean relations. She has extensive US government experience working on national security issues and was a CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) research consultant for Jane's Information Group.
Reprinted with permission by Times of Israel