Privacy and data privacy issues in contemporary china

Recent anthropological analyses of Chinese attitudes towards privacy fail to pay adequate attention to more ordinary, but more widely shared ideas of privacy – ideas that, moreover, have changed dramatically since the 1980s as China has become more and more open to Western countries, cultures, and their network and computing technologies. I begin by reviewing these changes, in part to show how contemporary notions of privacy in China constitute a dialectical synthesis of both traditional Chinese emphases on the importance of the family and the state and more Western emphases on individual rights, including the right to privacy. This same synthesis can be seen in contemporary Chinese law and scholarship regarding privacy. A review of recent work in philosophical ethics demonstrates that information ethics in China is in its very early stages. In this work, privacy is justified as an instrumental good, rather than an intrinsic good. I argue by way of conclusion that privacy protections will continue to expand in China, in part under the pressures of globalization, increasing trade with and exposure to Western societies, and the increasing demands for Western-style individual privacy by young people. Even so, I argue that these emerging conceptions of privacy will remain distinctively Chinese – i.e., they will retain a basic consistency with traditional Chinese values and approaches.
Keywords China  data privacy protection  globalization  privacy  Westernization
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