The West and China Are Converging on Online Speech and Privacy Rights

A video surveillance camera is installed above a subway platform in the Court Street station, Brooklyn, Oct. 7, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).
A video surveillance camera is installed above a subway platform in the Court Street station, Brooklyn, Oct. 7, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).

Near the outset of my time as a correspondent for The New York Times in China in the early 2000s, during one of my regular conversations with my research assistants, I had an idea for a story that I thought was promising. Beijing was just then cracking down on both video game parlors and internet access, with authorities saying that age limits needed to be imposed and real-name identification required in order to do many things online. At the time, the state used pornography as the rationale for the moves, arguing that online smut would poison the minds of the […]

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