At China’s Internet Conference, a Darker Side of Tech Emerges

WUZHEN, China — Every year at the earth Internet Conference, held since 2014 inside the photogenic canal town of Wuzhen near Shanghai, companies as well as government officials have convened to send a message: China is usually a high-tech force to be reckoned with.

With that will message currently settled beyond much doubt, This kind of year’s conference showcased something different. China’s tech industry is usually becoming more serious about grappling with its products’ unintended consequences — as well as about helping the government.

Discussions of technology’s promise were leavened with contemplation of its darker side effects, such as fraud as well as data breaches. A forum on protecting personal information featured representatives coming from China’s highest prosecutor as well as its powerful internet regulator. as well as several tech companies pledged their support for Beijing’s counterterrorism efforts, even as China faces international criticism for detaining as well as indoctrinating Muslims inside the name of fighting terrorism inside the western region of Xinjiang.

“Tencent has been dedicated to dealing with terrorist information online as well as various other internet crimes, in line with the government’s crackdown,” Chen Yong, an executive in Tencent’s security management department, said at the event.

Among Chinese companies This kind of week, private enterprises showed off the ways in which they increasingly support as well as work with the government, while state-backed companies demonstrated they were not doomed to be tech laggards.

The Tencent executive, Mr. Chen, described in an interview the company’s relationship with law enforcement.

Political activists have reported being followed based on what they have said on WeChat. Chat records have turned up as evidence in court, fueling speculation about whether Tencent, the app’s developer, may be the source.

Mr. Chen said Tencent reports illegal activity discovered on its platforms to the government, after which authorities can request specific user information. Metadata describing when as well as where users logged into a Tencent app can be stored for up to six months, he said. however Mr. Chen denied that will the company gave law enforcement officials a back door through which they could freely peruse chat records as well as user data.

“We only store the content that will the law prescribes,” he said. “However long the law says to store This kind of, that will’s how long we store This kind of. Whatever the law says to store, that will’s what we store.”