Is Concern Over Chinese Linux Distros Racist?

Deepin is a Linux distro that has been praised for its installation process and the look and feel of its desktop environment. Deepin has also generated a fair amount of concern because it is developed by Chinese firm Wuhan Deepin Technology Co.

As the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace notes,

On one hand, the Chinese government has set out a legal obligation for tech companies to provide access to data for public security and intelligence gathering purposes. This has meant that Chinese tech companies either eschew certain types of encryption or they utilize encryption on commercial products with a backdoor or key escrow. On the other hand, poor cyber hygiene and rampant cyber crime have sparked rising awareness of privacy and a demand for personal information security among Chinese citizens.

Given that background, there is considerable angst in some quarters as to whether Deepin might have Chinese-government mandated back doors. Yes, the OS is open source and so could hypothetically be audited to determine if this is the case, but in practice this would be an expensive and time consuming process.

This is not just an issue for Deepin, but it is exacerbate by the lack of restraints and rule of law on the Chinese government’s ability to mandate such backdoors.

According to Beta News writer Brian Fagioli, such concerns are simply racist,

True, some xenophobic conspiracy theorists will decry the use of software made in China, but many computer users around the world use deepin regularly without issue.

This dismissive hand wave of genuine security concerns as little more than racism is ridiculous and potentially harmful to its readers. That Fagioli and Beta News prefer to characterize such concerns this way instead of providing readers with a balanced discussion of the potential risks suggest they are uninterested in providing useful analysis to their audience.

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