Chinese internet users criticize Baidu CEO for saying people in China are willing to give up data privacy for convenience
The CEO of China’s biggest search engine sparked a furious reaction online after saying Chinese people are willing to give up data privacy for convenience.
Responding to a question about data privacy at a panel discussion in Beijing, Baidu’s Robin Li said that while the country is becoming increasingly aware of the issue, Chinese people are happy to forego privacy if it benefits them in other ways.
“I think Chinese people are more open or less sensitive about the privacy issue,” said Li. “If they are able to trade privacy for convenience, for safety, for efficiency, in a lot of cases they’re willing to do that.”
Netizens reacted strongly to that. Some simply rejected Li’s claim, saying “I’m not willing to", while others called the comment “shameless”. The online backlash was even covered by Chinese state media.
Some pointed out that it’s not that Chinese people are “willing to” give up data privacy -- they say they’re forced to because some apps and services don’t give them a choice.
After Li’s comment, one Beijing newspaper said they tested ten popular Android apps in China, and found that half won’t let people use the app unless they agree to certain permissions.
Li also laid out Baidu’s principle on using personal data, saying “if we think using the data will benefit the user who owns the data, and the user agrees that the data can be used, we will use it.
Others think Robin Li is simply stating the facts. Tech blogger Keso Hong Bo says Chinese people rarely spoke about their rights before, but the fact that Li’s comment angers them shows that they’re starting to care.