Workshop: Big Data, Privacy and Surveillance in China: Regulations, Actors, and Debates

The Digital China project organizes a workshop on Big Data, Privacy and Surveillance in China on 5-6 October. The workshop brings together scholars from China, Hong Kong, the UK and Canada to discuss these issues from different angles.

The workshop is open to a limited number of participant and you need to contact Marina Svensson for registration and information on venue. Last date to register is 29 September.

Interrogating and debating surveillance and its impact on society is not the prerogative of scholars. A number of artists, including Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, have over the years engaged with issues related to surveillance and produced remarkable works that expose and illustrate the extent and depth of surveillance in society today. See further an earlier blog.

The workshop will look at the issues of big data, privacy, and surveillance in China from different angles.

  • Studying, understanding and visualizing big data in the context of China
  • The macro-framework of data regulation (international and national issues, laws, regulations and policies)
  • Visions and government policies and programs related to big data (including how big data is being used by government, how academic institutions and companies have responded etc.)
  • Public debates and media reports about big data, including on issues related to privacy, surveillance, and security.
  • On-the-ground practices of shaping and socialising perceptions on digitisation and promoting digital literacy.



5 October

  • 9.15-9.45         Welcome and introduction to workshop

Governing Big Data: Rules, Regulations, And Their Implications

  • 9.45-10.45        Séverine Arsène, (French Centre for Research on Contemporary China), “Data localization in the Chinese quest for cybersovereignty”
  • 10.45-11.15      Coffee break
  • 11.15-12.00      Anne SY Cheung and Clement YX Chen, (Hong Kong University), “The Transparent Self in China’s Big Data Ecosystem”
  • 12.00-13.00      Lunch
  • 13.00- 14.00     Rogier Creemers (Leiden University), TBA
  • 14.00-15.00      Henry Hu (Shanghai University of Finance and Economics) “Who Owns the Big Data: commercial practice, law and the struggle for digital assets in China”
  • 15.00-15.30      Coffee break
  • 15.30-16.30      Discussion: Critical Big Data Studies?


6 October

Surveillance, Privacy and Citizenship: Debates and Concerns

  • 9.15-10.15         Hu Yong (Beijing University) “When Chinese Internet is no longer anonymous: A case of strong administrative control but weak legal protection”
  • 10.15-10.45       Coffee break
  • 10.45-11.45       Ronggui Huang (Fudan University) “Public perceptions of big data in China: Textual analysis of Weibo posts (2014-2016)”
  • 11.45-13.00       Lunch
  • 13.00-14.00      Jason Ng (The Citizen Lab, University of Toronto) “Mass Targeted Censorship? The Latest Findings in WeChat’s Content Filtering System and It’s Effect on Overseas Chinese”
  • 14.00-15.00      Perry Keller (Kings College London), “Citizenship and surveillance in China’s smart cities”
  • 15.00-15.30      Coffee break
  • 15.30-16.30      Discussion: Studying Big Data – Methods in the making?


The workshop has received funding from the Swedish Research Council and the The Birgit Rausing Language Programme.


September 16, 2016

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