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China’s censorship czar falls, as its “Police Cloud” tracking system rises across the country

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We write quite a lot about China here on Privacy Online News. Sadly, that’s generally because China is in the vanguard when it comes to bad things happening to privacy. That’s confirmed by an important new “Freedom on the Net” report, which summarized the situation in China as follows:

“China was the world’s worst abuser of internet freedom in Freedom on the Net for the third consecutive year. New regulations increased pressure on companies to verify users’ identities and restrict banned content and services. Meanwhile, users themselves were punished for sharing sensitive news and commentary, with prison terms ranging from five days to eleven years.”

One of the key figures in reining in freedom on the Chinese Internet and undermining privacy there in recent years, is an official called Lu Wei. In a surprising turn of events, it appears that Lu is under investigation for “serious violations of party discipline,” which is a standard euphemism for corruption. In what seems a rather ironic turn of events, the Chinese authorities have issued orders to censor news about the censorship czar’s fall:

“Regarding the matter of former Central Propaganda Department Vice Minister Lu Wei’s investigation on suspicion of serious disciplinary violation, please close comments on websites, Wechat public accounts, Weibo etc. Find and delete negative comments attacking the system, and so on.”

Lu’s removal is unlikely to lead to any easing of the authorities’ clampdown. Apple has removed hundreds of apps from its download store in China this year at the government’s request, including Microsoft’s Skype. This is just the latest move in a general crackdown on VoIP programs: earlier, Apple told US Senators that it had taken

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