Chinesen entdecken die Privatsphäre

Der Economist berichtet über das langsam erwachende Interesse der Chinesen an ihrer Privatsphäre:
IT IS surely telling that the characters that make up yinsi, the Chinese word for “privacy”, carry the connotations of illicit secrets and selfish, conspiratorial behaviour. The notion of privacy has not traditionally been valued in China, and proof of that is on display everywhere. The country's public lavatories are often open-plan affairs where locals unabashedly squat elbow-to-elbow as they tend to their business. In hospitals, modesty is often thrown to the wind as treatments are carried out in full view of milling crowds. In the most casual of social interactions, complete strangers think nothing of asking each other details—about their salary, weight and so on—that most westerners would not share even with close friends. Despite all this, there are signs that the concept of privacy is gaining currency. Echoing the debates now common in western societies, many in China are beginning to bristle at the intrusiveness of nosy employers, data-mining marketers and ubiquitous security cameras. It is a remarkable development, considering where things stood just a few decades ago. When China's communist rulers came to power in 1949, they set few limits on their freedom to pry into the lives of ordinary people. In the heyday of state control, the Chinese had their employment, housing, health care, food rations and travel all micromanaged by bureaucrats, and their lives were open books. Women of childbearing age even had their menstrual cycles monitored so the state could ensure that those without permission did not get—or remain—pregnant. The worst of that is now long past. In most respects, people have taken far greater control over their own lives as central planning has begun yielding to the market. Many Orwellian controls remain firmly in place, however, over politics, religion and free expression. ... some pundits reckon that, as attitudes toward privacy continue to change, the law will eventually be strengthened. One such is Professor Lu Yaohuai, of China's Central South University. He thinks that earlier attitudes toward privacy were shaped largely by traditional living arrangements whereby families of several generations often lived together in small homes. He notes that the average living space for urban Chinese had risen from 3.6 square metres (39 square feet) in 1978 to 11.4 square metres by 2003, and says this increase has played an important role in fostering expectations of privacy within the family, especially among the younger generation. Parents in the past would readily enter a child's room, or read a child's letters, without asking, says Mr Lu, but today are likely to incur the wrath of their privacy-conscious children if they do. A number of academics are going so far as to call openly for stronger privacy laws. In the public sphere, it is usually technology, rather than nosy parents, that attracts complaints. Though it still lags behind Britain, which leads the world with its 4.2m surveillance cameras, China is installing them at a steady clip. Shanghai alone has 200,000, and plans to double that number within five years. The city of Guangzhou has budgeted $26m to install security and traffic-monitoring cameras on all its main streets. Perhaps most high-tech of all is Beijing, where road cameras, equipped with night-vision capabilities, are paired with radar guns and can snap the number plates of speeding motorists at any time of day or night. Drivers are then notified of their infractions via text messages sent to their mobile phones. ... Several cases, though, have sparked public debate.


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