Government surveillance is difficult to uncover and understand because it is by nature secretive. In the absence of concrete facts (and add a tense geopolitical relationship between the U.S. and China to boot), less knowledgeable reporters might insert hyperbole or speculation. Chin and Lin do none of that, preferring instead to use real-world examples to illustrate both the mundane and dystopian applications of China's surveillance might ... One of the book's strongest traits is its unflinching analysis of how such big data approaches are being utilized not just by China, but by governments all around the world, including in the United States ... a cautionary book. It is fairhanded in detailing the rapacious speed at which China has constructed a model of digital authoritarianism other countries are no doubt eager to learn from. Its value is in showing how such surveillance systems are only as good (or bad) as the people who build them.
... superbly narrates what living under China's omnipresent surveillance apparatus means on a human level ... They present in vivid detail the excruciating reality of life in Xinjiang ... paints a damning picture of the abuses that can occur when unchecked regimes, operating under impunity, draw upon vast technological resources to advance an agenda of repression. The book also poses an intriguing question: have we overstated the capabilities of China's digital tools in serving as all-seeing instruments of repression? ... tackles a broad subject, and some ideas would benefit from additional probing. The book could delve further into the strategic consequences of China's headlong embrace of surveillance technologies ... poses important questions that few other books have probed with the same specificity and depth. It is a must-read, not just for readers interested in contemporary politics in China, but for those who want to better understand how technology is reshaping the globe.