The head of the UK’s intelligence services this week warned of China’s “debt traps and data traps.”
The former is a phrase familiar (and also controversial) to many, referring to Beijing’s use of loans and aid to advance its agenda globally. The latter is new.
Richard Moore, the MI6 chief, explained the idea as follows:“If you allow another country to gain access to really critical data about your society, over time that will erode your sovereignty, you no longer have control over that data.”
To Samantha Hoffman, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who has researched China’s tech-enhanced authoritarianism extensively, the term “data traps” neatly describes the complex set of problems she has long been studying.
“It’s a useful way of encapsulating the problem—which in my view is that we, in democracies, aren’t aware that data is strategically valuable, and what that means,” she…