Since the spread of the internet in the mid-nineties, privacy concerns have increased exponentially. Cyberspace has often been equated to Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, or to a new, digital version of George Orwell’s Big Brother, capable of seeing and controlling everything and everyone. This rather dystopic vision has rightly generated fear and distrust of the web. Recently, the thickening bonds between authorities and internet companies and the development of the net for political control have given new foundations to those fears. The rapidly evolving situation in China, as observed by Isabel Hilton on openDemocracy, certainly shows how those fears rest upon solid ground.
With an estimated number of total users that this year has crossed the threshold of 100 million, and notwithstanding the assumption that these numbers will continue to rise rapidly, China has already become a dominant presence in the internet world, second only to the United States of America.