A lot of Chinese people are getting mighty steamed over the burgeoning number of Orwellian spy cameras the government is sprinkling just about everywhere, recording what citizens are doing with no regard to privacy. And, to my amazement, people are actually doing something about it.
Public outrage over the surveillance cameras is mounting. One Chinese magazine wondered whether China is turning into an Orwellian society where Big Brother is always watching.
“When were these cameras installed?” asked a 28-year-old man who was swimming in Shichahai Lake in Beijing when the hidden cameras were pointed out to him. “We never knew about it,” he said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t swim here. Nobody wants to swim under a camera.”
A survey by China Youth Daily found that 74 per cent of those polled were unhappy with cameras in the corridors of university dormitories. “When I think of myself living under monitors, I feel frightened,” a female student told the newspaper.
One outraged Chinese journalist wrote an article about video cameras on public buses in the city of Guangzhou. According to the article, male passengers often ogle the driver’s video monitor, which catches glimpses of the bare skin or cleavage of unwary female passengers.
In a police state with a long history of authoritarian rule, the concept of a legal right to privacy has never really existed.
But in recent years, some people have begun to assert it.
Several privacy lawsuits have been filed in Chinese courts.
In one case, a woman won a lawsuit after a doctor allowed interns to watch him perform an abortion on her…
“How can people have a privacy right if cameras are installed in residential compounds and university dormitories? The right of privacy is a basic human right.”
As the article points out, surveillance cameras are even more prevalent in England and this is not unique to China. But it sure is nice to see at least some Chinese people waking up to their individual rights and actually fighting to protect them.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.