Surveillance technology is on the rise in democratic and non-democratic states alike. As these technologies develop, it is also important to consider how they could present a threat to freedom and human rights.
The example of one authoritarian country, China, shows how surveillance technology can be used to repress its citizens, especially oppressed ethnic groups such as the Uyghurs and Tibetans, human rights defenders, and political dissidents. In the absence of clear international standards and regulations on surveillance technology, China has also taken steps to steer international norms in a direction that legitimizes censorship and surveillance, paving the way for democratic backsliding in other countries.
“The same technology, the same surveillance techniques that have come to the attention of the international community essentially have been tested in Uyghur society, Uyghur camps and now is spreading around the world,” said Nury Turkel, a prominent advocate for Uyghur and minority rights. “We should be concerned of this new norm becoming a part of our daily lives.”
To learn more AbouT Surveillance technology and its threat to democracy, check out these NED events and publications:
- The Global Struggle Over AI Surveillance: Emerging Trends and Democratic Responses
- No Escape: The True Story of China’s Genocide of the Uyghurs
- Eighteenth Annual Seymour Martin Lipset Lecture: Ronald Deibert on “Digital Subversion: The Threat To Democracy”
- Censorship, Surveillance, and Human Rights: 10 Ways These Trends Intersect with the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
- The Road to Digital Unfreedom: President Xi’s Surveillance State | Journal of Democracy
- CIMA: Surveillance For Sale: How China and Russia Export Repression Technology
About the Democracy in the World video series:
In a time of rising authoritarianism and democratic backsliding in many countries, NED’s partners around the world are facing many challenges. Some of the challenges are new, such as the rise of digital repression and the use of new technologies to silence and monitor critics. At the same time, other urgent issues and crises such as human rights violations, declining press freedom, and transnational corruption can get lost in the shuffle. To call attention to these new and resurgent threats, NED is launching a new video series—Democracy in the World—to highlight the most pressing challenges to democratic development, human rights, and governance today. Watch the full series here.