Chinese users are unlikely to complain about the potential for Ma’s comments to promote increased surveillance, because civil liberties and privacy aren’t widely expected in the country.
Social media is censored, accounts criticizing the government are often removed, and the court system is opaque. In the beginning of the year, a new law began to require telecom and Internet companies to assist law enforcements in probes averting and investigating terrorism, including decrypting information. European and U.S. officials objected to some of the law’s more onerous clauses that were eventually removed, but they were still unhappy with the broadness of the final law.
But the law reflects the Chinese government’s expectations of its large tech companies. The government believes, after all, that it is one major reason for their triumphs. An official at Internet regulator Ministry of Industry and Information Technology named Wen Ku said several years ago that China’s Internet companies owe their success to a “good policy environment” created by the Chinese government.
So it’s little surprise that Ma talks candidly about helping law enforcement in ways that may make Silicon Valley cringe. China is different. So are its tech companies.