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Tartle Best Data Marketplace
Tartle Best Data Marketplace
December 22, 2021

Orwellian China and Data Governance: Is Big Brother Always Watching?

Orwellian China and Data Governance

Orwellian China and Data Governance: Is Big Brother Always Watching?


We know that our data isn’t just a reflection of what we do on the internet; it’s a direct result of our thoughts, beliefs, and perspectives as unique individuals. So when we are caught in the power struggle between governments and big tech companies, how can we position ourselves to respond appropriately? Is it possible to take control of our own data?

Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby discuss plenty of heavy-hitting issues in this episode. Aside from the possibility of an Orwellian future, brought about by the Chinese government’s efforts to surveil and assign social credits to all their citizens, they also discuss the government’s attempt to control big tech companies.

Are We Government Puppets in the Making?

China aims to be a leader in harnessing big data. The Social Credit System, which was first conceptualized in 2014, is definitely a development that we need to keep a wary eye on. However, it’s still got a long way to go. While there is a lot of information being collected, the government remains challenged to unify efforts being made across the country and centralize information.

But once the government does get the hang of the credit system, the future looks pretty bleak. What’s it like to live in a society where you are so heavily surveilled and regulated, you eventually start to change the way you think and act? It’s probably going to be like slowly boiling a frog in a pot filled with water—you won’t know you’re dead meat until it’s too late.

TARTLE campaigns for government and corporate transparency, and human rights. We believe in a world where the individual is empowered to make their own decisions, take their own actions, and hold their own data. This is not possible in a society where the government is making an effort to farm our personal information to control our words, thoughts, and actions.

Caught in the Tug of War Between Government and Big Tech

As individuals, we find ourselves caught in a power struggle between big tech companies and the government. One seeks to commodify us, and the other seeks to control us. It is amidst this struggle that we, more than ever, need to reclaim our data for ourselves.

The controversial Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) discussed by Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby on this episode was just recently passed and enforced last November 1, 2021. While the title makes it sound like a noble act, the duo discussed how this law is the latest attempt in China’s efforts to rein in the growth of its tech giants.

Its effect on data in the country is a double-edged sword. It does stop unauthorized data trading and theft— but it also caters to the national government’s vested interests. Tech companies from overseas that cannot fulfill the PIPL are in danger of being blacklisted. This bans them from processing Chinese personal data.

In fact, the implications of operating under China’s PIPL have already scared away tech companies. Yahoo shut down its last few services in the country after the law was passed, citing in a statement to BBC that their decision was because of the “increasingly challenging business and legal environment” in the country. Linkedin also pulled out of China for similar reasons a month before the PIPL went live.

Closing Thoughts: Are We Really Free?

It’s difficult to say for certain if we remain in full control of our thoughts and actions in a world where we are constantly being sent subliminal messages—where we are both pawns and subjects in the power struggles of bigger entities.

The people on the ground need platforms that function as safe spaces for them to practice taking ownership over their own data. We have become so accustomed to having other entities handle our information that the idea of profiting from our personal data seems so foreign. However, it is possible—and it’s a future we want to build here at TARTLE.

TARTLE’s mission is to make the answer to that issue a bit clearer and in our favor. We deserve to have the tools and skills that will help empower us and our data. It is our vision to have a world where our personal information benefits ourselves, and not big tech nor the government.

What’s your data worth?

Feature Image Credit: Envato Elements

For those who are hard of hearing – the episode transcript can be read below:


Alexander McCaig (00:00):

Are you trying to go over my helmet?

Jason Rigby (00:13):


Alexander McCaig (00:14):

Great. Thank you. Great film. Not there. Yes.

Jason Rigby (00:19):

That's where... People don't realize it, but most, everything is done in Tesla. Like, the Plaid Edition, the way the rocket changed.

Alexander McCaig (00:24):

Yeah. Remember they said Spaceball One has gone plaid?

Jason Rigby (00:26):

Yeah, yeah.

Alexander McCaig (00:27):

Yeah, duh.

Jason Rigby (00:27):

So that's all his...

Alexander McCaig (00:29):


Jason Rigby (00:29):

He's doing everything through Spaceballs.

Alexander McCaig (00:30):

Yeah, we don't break for anybody.

Jason Rigby (00:32):

I wonder what Elon Musk would feel about this article. No one's ever asked him this, but I bet he would have strong opinions on this.

Alexander McCaig (00:39):

This, to me, feels like a deliberate distraction. And first of all, you and I have spoken many times on China surveillance.

Jason Rigby (00:54):


Alexander McCaig (00:55):

And they just launched a crack load of new satellites to watch people.

Jason Rigby (01:00):

Yeah, we did an episode on that.

Alexander McCaig (01:01):

So why is it now... What would be the most logical path for why China wants to set tougher rules on tech companies? I don't understand.

Jason Rigby (01:14):

Why does the government want to... It sounds so good. The name of the Personal Information Protection Law-

Alexander McCaig (01:21):

You want to know why?

Jason Rigby (01:22):

"We're going to protect you as an individual."

Alexander McCaig (01:24):

I'll tell you.

Jason Rigby (01:24):

The government's saying that. The Chinese government's saying to-

Alexander McCaig (01:26):

That's crap.

Jason Rigby (01:26):

... Chinese citizens, "We're going to protect you-

Alexander McCaig (01:29):

No, that's crap.

Jason Rigby (01:29):

... "and your data."

Alexander McCaig (01:30):

That's crap. And I'll tell you why. They realize that private business-

Jason Rigby (01:35):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (01:36):

... can grow at a much faster rate than they can. And they know that information, tracking of their citizens, everything about their life is the most powerful tool for control that they have.

Jason Rigby (01:48):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (01:50):

China's not a free society by any means.

Jason Rigby (01:53):

And Russia and South America.

Alexander McCaig (01:55):

They'll tell you that. You go to China, ask the government. They know-

Jason Rigby (01:56):

Well, United States is trying to get data, Canada. This is all the globe.

Alexander McCaig (02:00):

But why is it that China, the government, would want to find the largest tech companies they have?

Jason Rigby (02:08):

[Alibaba 00:02:08]. Yeah.

Alexander McCaig (02:08):

Why would they do that? Because they don't want them to have control. That's the issue. Their own institutions underneath them, because of Western capitalism, is actually a threat to the nationalistic communism model that China's running. China's like, "We're going to find you for all this stuff on users." You can't do that to the users. Why? Because only the government's allowed to do that.

Jason Rigby (02:33):

Well, what's so funny is big tech's just collecting.... So here's the difference between the two. I think this is really important for people to understand.

Alexander McCaig (02:41):

Big tech wants to move money. Yeah.

Jason Rigby (02:42):

So big tech wants to make money, and they're taking it to market, and they want to get as much GPS location data and all that stuff about you.

Alexander McCaig (02:46):


Jason Rigby (02:46):

So they can market it to you perfectly, so you'll buy more shit.

Alexander McCaig (02:49):

That's all it is.

Jason Rigby (02:51):

I would doubt like Jack Ma and all them are nefarious.

Alexander McCaig (02:53):

No, one's commodification, the other one's control.

Jason Rigby (02:56):

Yeah. So then you have the government with this Personal Information Protection Law-

Alexander McCaig (03:01):

[Crosstalk 00:03:01].

Jason Rigby (03:01):

... the Chinese... I mean, you have a China central television, that tells you right there.

Alexander McCaig (03:09):

"The central television wants to protect me." That does... You just look at this, and it's a fallacy. It's so contradictory, this entire thing. The only reason they want to find their big tech firms is because they don't want them to have control.

Jason Rigby (03:27):

And if China was such a great country-

Alexander McCaig (03:30):


Jason Rigby (03:31):

... they pretty much own North Korea.

Alexander McCaig (03:33):


Jason Rigby (03:34):

They would come in and help them out.

Alexander McCaig (03:35):

Yeah. They would actually, yeah.

Jason Rigby (03:36):

They wouldn't have starving people-

Alexander McCaig (03:38):

There wouldn't be.

Jason Rigby (03:38):

... getting shot all the time and blown up with mines.

Alexander McCaig (03:40):

No. And why is... China is actually having an issue right now with people leaving the rural areas.

Jason Rigby (03:45):


Alexander McCaig (03:46):

The second they get a taste of city life, they're like, "I'm not going back there."

Jason Rigby (03:48):


Alexander McCaig (03:49):

"I'm not going to farm anymore." Then the Chinese government has to step in and then subsidize the farmers. And then you got to bring all this food in, you got scarcity. It's a mess. It's an absolute mess. But you have to understand, they're not in the business. They're not in the business of the citizen's benefit.

Jason Rigby (04:05):


Alexander McCaig (04:06):

China's in the business for China's benefit.

Jason Rigby (04:08):

To be a super power of the world.

Alexander McCaig (04:10):

That's all it is. And guess what? They are, in fact, a super power.

Jason Rigby (04:13):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (04:14):

They're very, very powerful.

Jason Rigby (04:15):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (04:16):

Very powerful. But you have to understand that when somebody says they're trying to put out a law for your benefit, no. It is for China's benefit. China has a credit scoring system on every single one of the citizens in the cities. Every single one of those citizens that is put into their systems, they are tracking you.

Jason Rigby (04:33):

[crosstalk 00:04:33] Yeah.

Alexander McCaig (04:33):

They know who you talk to, they know how people feel about you, and they use that information against you. So think about how is it that people would react? If someone puts in a mechanism for control like that, nobody's really acting how they truly are.

Jason Rigby (04:53):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (04:54):

Because you're just trying to put on a facade so that the government doesn't lock you up. That's all you're going to do. And it's going to force people to take other more perverse ways to go around these control mechanisms.

Jason Rigby (05:06):

Well, here's what... This is with fortune.com, this article. So this is something-

Alexander McCaig (05:09):

Fortune is paid.

Jason Rigby (05:10):

Yeah. Yeah.

Alexander McCaig (05:11):

That's a paid to post.

Jason Rigby (05:12):

Yeah. But I mean, this is fortune.com article, this isn't some crack article. I want you to listen to this comment. Whoever wrote this did a good job. It says, "The nation's legislature passed related law in June that gave the power to shut," notice that. They used the word "shut". "... to shut our Finetech companies that stood in the way of the president's efforts to control vast reams of data they built."

Alexander McCaig (05:34):

Listen, the government can come in and shut down, against somebody else's free will, "We're going to shut you down."

Jason Rigby (05:41):

Well, I mean, how many Chinese billionaires have gone missing?

Alexander McCaig (05:44):

No, I know. How many regular citizens have gone missing in China?

Jason Rigby (05:49):

Yes. Yes.

Alexander McCaig (05:49):

How many Buddhist have gone missing in China?

Jason Rigby (05:51):

Oh yeah.

Alexander McCaig (05:52):

Listen, standing in the way, are you serious? Standing in the way of whose choice?

Jason Rigby (06:01):


Alexander McCaig (06:02):

One person decides for all?

Jason Rigby (06:04):

No. No. But like you said earlier, of his efforts, the President's, of his efforts to control vast reams of data they build.

Alexander McCaig (06:11):


Jason Rigby (06:12):


Alexander McCaig (06:12):

He wants to control. He is the national identity of China. The government just wants control. This is not an article to talk about benefits. This is a way for them to continue to nationalize more information.

Jason Rigby (06:28):

Well, here's the scary part to me on this next statement. The moves come as some US lawmakers call for breaking up internet titans, like Facebook, Inc., and Alphabet Inc., and as European regulations prioritize antitrust actions in giving users more control over data. So-

Alexander McCaig (06:44):

Oh my gosh. Don't break them up. I'm just going to use a historical example here for everybody that's not paying attention. What happens when you break up standard oil? Rockefeller became more rich, more powerful.

Jason Rigby (06:55):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (06:56):

You just decentralized all the shell companies. It didn't help. You don't come in with the government and strong-arm companies into doing something. They will find every other avenue with all their fantastic lawyers and far more resources.

Jason Rigby (07:13):

They have way more.

Alexander McCaig (07:13):

And they can move 10 times faster than the government can.

Jason Rigby (07:15):


Alexander McCaig (07:16):

They will just adapt to something else. You need to meet them where they are, and you need to bring them a new option. You cannot strong-arm them and turn them into something they're not.

Jason Rigby (07:26):

But what I'm afraid of, if China's successful in this and passes these Personal Information Acts and all this stuff-

Alexander McCaig (07:31):

It's going to lead as an example for everyone else to take.

Jason Rigby (07:33):


Alexander McCaig (07:33):


Jason Rigby (07:33):

So all these other countries, because we're not just bashing on China, whether it's European Union or whether it's US-

Alexander McCaig (07:39):

Like I said, China's just brash enough to be public about it. You know what I mean?

Jason Rigby (07:42):

Yeah, they don't give two shits.

Alexander McCaig (07:43):

No, they don't. Not at all.

Jason Rigby (07:46):

Yeah, but this is in effect September the first. So this, Chinese government's already passed this. I mean, this is a world's second largest economy. And they say China is the leader in big data.

Alexander McCaig (08:00):

It is the leader. They collect more information on their citizens than anyone else. So it's easy. Right? If I get a billion people and I'm tracking all of them, I'm already the winner in big data, hands down.

Jason Rigby (08:12):

So if you can get a step up on big data and you have total control of big data in three years, five years, 10 years from now-

Alexander McCaig (08:20):

China knows the future. I want you to... Let's think about a scenario.

Jason Rigby (08:24):

Oh, shit.

Alexander McCaig (08:24):

Consider this. Elon Musk is doing the wetware implant.

Jason Rigby (08:28):


Alexander McCaig (08:29):

Think about that. Okay. So all that information's on his servers, processing it through whatever Tesla algorithm, or I don't know what the hell they're going to use.

Jason Rigby (08:38):

Their AI, yeah.

Alexander McCaig (08:39):

Yeah. And then say, for instance, government comes in and says, "You know what? We're going to nationalize that data." The government now owns your thoughts. How would you feel about that? You're going to feel, "Oh, I took the step. I got the wetware. I'm all cushy. I feel good, doing all this other stuff. I'm futuristic." And the government says, "Yeah, we're going to shut this monopoly down. All that information that Tesla has, we're going to control that."

Jason Rigby (09:03):

Yeah, I would rather Tesla have my information than the US government.

Alexander McCaig (09:06):

Than the US government.

Jason Rigby (09:06):


Alexander McCaig (09:07):

And then what happens when the wetware gets into China?

Jason Rigby (09:09):


Alexander McCaig (09:09):

And people are like, "Oh, this is super cool. They're doing it in the west, so why don't we do it over here?" Oh-

Jason Rigby (09:13):

Or they hack.

Alexander McCaig (09:14):

And then guess what? Your whole brain, which has been uplinked to a server, that service's completely owned by your government. Now, they're actually tracking brain wave patterns on you.

Jason Rigby (09:24):

What if Russia puts malware in those, just causes people to start just going fucking crazy?

Alexander McCaig (09:29):

You short, shorten out.

Jason Rigby (09:31):

They're just going off-

Alexander McCaig (09:33):


Jason Rigby (09:33):

... in the middle of the supermarket. They're like a Karen.

Alexander McCaig (09:35):

Yeah. And Putin's like, "You know something, this is why we didn't do wetware over here."

Jason Rigby (09:41):

Putin's 132.

Alexander McCaig (09:42):

Yeah. Yeah-

Jason Rigby (09:42):

He's still like-

Alexander McCaig (09:43):

... Putin's 200, 200 years old, still weight lifting and smoking a cigar.

Jason Rigby (09:47):

Yeah. Yeah.

Alexander McCaig (09:49):

My gosh.

Jason Rigby (09:49):

Riding horses.

Alexander McCaig (09:51):

But this is the point. I mean, guys, the reason Jason and I do this data news is to filter through the bullshit for you.

Jason Rigby (09:58):

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's what it is.

Alexander McCaig (09:59):

Just look at where you're getting scammed. If you look at the areas where people are taking away your free will and your choice, stay away from it.

Jason Rigby (10:10):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (10:11):

It's so obvious. And we talk about China so much because they're the leading example of taking away power from citizens.

Jason Rigby (10:17):

Yeah. And people don't realize, this is... I want to use this analogy. When you have government and big tech, if you're in Indonesia, and people don't realize how big tigers are. They're huge. They're almost the size of a bear.

Alexander McCaig (10:30):

They're very large.

Jason Rigby (10:32):

They're a lot bigger than... I think they are... Are they bigger than a lion? I think they are.

Alexander McCaig (10:35):

Tigers are much.

Jason Rigby (10:36):

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Alexander McCaig (10:37):

Because lions don't get that big.

Jason Rigby (10:37):

Yeah. So if you have two male tigers, and you go around a corner and you see two male tigers fighting each other-

Alexander McCaig (10:45):

I'm going to turn around.

Jason Rigby (10:46):

If you say, "Let me get my phone out and let me get closer. Let me get closer-

Alexander McCaig (10:50):


Jason Rigby (10:50):

... those tigers will stop fighting-

Alexander McCaig (10:52):

And go for you.

Jason Rigby (10:53):

... and go for you.

Alexander McCaig (10:54):

Oh, this is weaker. We're going to both share on this.

Jason Rigby (10:57):

So just because big tech and government, they're both tigers.

Alexander McCaig (11:01):

They're both, yeah.

Jason Rigby (11:01):

And because they look like they're fighting, don't think that they're one for you, because they're a tiger, period.

Alexander McCaig (11:07):


Jason Rigby (11:07):

They're all about taking things away with force.

Alexander McCaig (11:15):

I'll give an example in the US, and this is where the US falls short too. Our defense sector-

Jason Rigby (11:20):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (11:21):

... obviously, phenomenal. Lockheed Martin shows up, they're doing cool stuff. They're an engineering firm, doing some consulting, "We'll do this work," blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Government's like, "Yeah, why don't you come work for us full time?"

Jason Rigby (11:32):


Alexander McCaig (11:33):

Well, when you get in the skunk works program, then you can't get out of it. You're wrapped in.

Jason Rigby (11:38):

Well, there are billions of dollars coming to you.

Alexander McCaig (11:40):


Jason Rigby (11:40):

What are you going to do?

Alexander McCaig (11:41):

So you're like, "I'll stay." Yeah. But what happens when Alibaba's pressured to give up all this stuff?

Jason Rigby (11:44):

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alexander McCaig (11:45):

Okay. First of all, they'll leave. They're like, "We're going to put our servers somewhere else." And then China's going to say, "Well, it's still on Chinese citizens."

Jason Rigby (11:54):


Alexander McCaig (11:54):

Then you're going to have a cross border issue. Then this holding is going to blow up, because everybody wants control. There's only one way to solve it. One simple solve. People are in full, complete and total control of their information. And it's so encrypted, so decentralized, no government can touch it. They can't look at it unless somebody actively chooses through their own consent to share it. There's only one place in the world to do that, and that's tartle.co.

Jason Rigby (12:18):

Yeah. You can sell your data to whoever.

Alexander McCaig (12:20):

Yeah. If you want to sell it to China, be my guest.

Jason Rigby (12:23):

Yeah. Sell it to whoever.

Alexander McCaig (12:24):

If you don't, don't.

Jason Rigby (12:25):

That's... If Alibaba wants to be a buyer and buy data-

Alexander McCaig (12:28):


Jason Rigby (12:28):

... and you guys want to sell your data to them, go right ahead.

Alexander McCaig (12:31):

Go ahead. But we're going to stand up against strong army.

Jason Rigby (12:33):


Alexander McCaig (12:34):

And honestly, I don't hate big tech. I don't at all.

Jason Rigby (12:37):


Alexander McCaig (12:37):

They just need a better option.

Jason Rigby (12:39):

Yeah. I think it's just... Well, we've talked about this before. It's just the way that this perpetual ROI, or perpetual have to make capital. That's the only reason. We're going to do-

Alexander McCaig (12:50):


Jason Rigby (12:50):

We're going to do another show.

Alexander McCaig (12:51):


Jason Rigby (12:51):

The next show's going to be about Facebook.

Alexander McCaig (12:53):

Do not look at human beings as a commodity.

Jason Rigby (12:55):


Alexander McCaig (12:55):

Because then you're not looking at them as... They're not people to you anymore. They're numbers. Don't let the world turn you into a number in the IRS. Don't let it happen. We're all so unique, so beautiful, so individualistic. But we are also so collaborative. We can be so understanding, we can be so resourceful. Don't squander that.

Jason Rigby (13:22):

So whatever country you're a part of, whatever citizen you are, how can you take control of your data?

Alexander McCaig (13:28):

You can take control of your data by going to tartle.co, getting started, signing up, telling your friends and family to sign up, start to link all the accounts you use, start to populate data packets, saying that, "This is my asset. My thoughts, my actions are under my control, and my control only. And I know that TARTLE can't look at it. I know that TARTLE can't move it without my permission. Nothing. This is my key to my bank, and nobody's going to tell me what to do with it. I'm going to move it on my time, my day, my life."

Jason Rigby (14:03):

Love that.

Alexander McCaig (14:03):


Speaker 3 (14:03):

Thank you for listening to TARTLECAST with your hosts Alexander McCaig and Jason Rigby, where humanity steps into the future and source data defines the path. What's your data worth?