The new Terms of Service is a concern to me, a resident of China

in #steemit6 years ago (edited)

According to Steemitblog's latest post, their new Terms of Service designed to adhere to the rule of law states the following:

Now, I'm no lawyer so this post is coming purely out of ignorance and so I'd specifically appreciate some discussions in the comments of either reassurance or re-affirmation, but the way I understand this, it's quite concerning.

As one of the top commenters points out:

Are you going to forward "illegal" behaviour onto authorities? If they request records of who someone is for "illegal" behaviour are you going to give it over to them?

I understand that STINC are covering their own arses with no mal-intent, but the repercussions could be pretty dangerous for a lot of people - in particular me.

The above commenter was dismissed with the following:

Nothing personal, but don't you think you're creating drama where there is none...If you don't agree with these tos you can use any other UI you feel more comfortable with in order to access the data stored in the Steem blockchain.

So if I were not happy with these terms, I can use But whatever I post on will also be posted on the blockchain, if not Steemit itself. But presumably, Steemit still has access to my personal data.

This might not be a concern in, say, the US where freedom of speech is enjoyed to the fullest, but I live in China, a country where people get arrested for helping provide food and blankets for people who were kicked out of their homes into the sub-zero Beijing winter on 12 hours' notice by the government because they wanted to demolish the buildings and replace them skyscrapers. Things don't work like the USA here.

Does Steemit still have access to my posts? How about the phone number that I originally set this account up with? If they were to only hand over my phone number to a Chinese authority, that would be the end of me within a couple of hours. This information is sufficient to track exactly where I am, whether it's at my home address, a cafe or walking in a park. Mass surveillance has taken care of that. They'd have complete access to my friends, my social media accounts, my bank account, chat logs, everything.

I had every intention of using Steemit as a place to openly criticize the Communist Party - I had only recently written the first episode of a continuous series on the matter. Now I'm not so sure I should. This isn't the kind of feelings I should be battling inside myself on a platform that was conceptually priding itself on its uncensored, decentralised nature.

If my data is completely removed should I deny the terms of service, then this is less worrying, but it still raises a problem of censorship.

There is a large userbase of Chinese citizens here on Steemit and as I said in the comments, I'm sure many of them enjoy their place here where they can write what they want without having half their vocabulary erased and censored. Try writing 'Winnie the Pooh' on any Chinese social media and you'll find it simply won't send.

I go on in the comments explaining that it could become the case that Steemit will take down everything in accordance to Chinese rule in the same way companies all over the western world are doing in an attempt to suck China's big d***. There's money in it for you if you obey China, and many corporations know this, from Sony to Facebook, Amazon, Google, Skyscanner and beyond. A day doesn't go by when I hear a company making a desperate, public apology to China for, say, having Taiwan as a seperate option in a drop down list of 'countries'. If they didn't immediately change it and make a social apology, they would lose all Chinese business and collapse.

That's how the world is now, folks.

Is China's influence going to force STINC to hand over any Chinese user data? Will it force anything China disagrees with to vanish from its platform? Is the ToS even written in Chinese? Can one undo the Tos agreement if you later find out things you don't agree with?

These things are at worst dangerous, and at best a shame.

Correct me if I'm wrong!



"This might not be a concern in, say, the US where freedom of speech is enjoyed to the fullest"


you might want to re-think that. The US is absolutely a police-state, just one where they give a slightly wider range to the allowed opinions of the liberals. (They straight up arrested a group of over 100 people protesting trump on the day he went into office, and the trails still arent over. They are doing this as an "example". )

The us has a larger prison population than china, just because we put a clause in the constitution about slavery still being legal in prison. (It turns out we target minorities for prison too, hmmmmm)

not trying to downplay china, but look at this

Well I did specify Freedom of speech - and I can't think of any other nation that enjoys this more than the US does. I'm sure there may be examples of incarceration of some extreme hate crimes in the US, but not nearly to the extent of 'not nice opinions' in Europe, and certainly not anything close to China.

Freedom of Speech is one of the few things America still has to be absolutely proud of, from what I can see. Most of the incarceration in the US is because of low-level drug crime - -close to half of the entire population behind bars.

Another comparison of use might be how China convicts over 99.9% of defendants, compared to 93% in the US (though compare that with the 75% from the 70's in the US!)

But yeah, freedom of speech is the specific crime here

"Well I did specify Freedom of speech - and I can't think of any other nation that enjoys this more than the US does. I'm sure there may be examples of incarceration of some extreme hate crimes in the US, but not nearly to the extent of 'not nice opinions' in Europe, and certainly not anything close to China."

the examples i gave were peaceful protests lmao

The guy who lost his house, car, and job, was found not guilty. Using that as a statistic doesn't say much.

and prisons are the ultimate form of taking away all freedoms, not just freedoms of speech. The US is smart, they aim to fix the problems that suppressing freedoms of speech directly causes.

Also, I'm still not trying to say china doesnt have it bad. I'm just trying to say if the US is your example of "free speech" you don't know what that means lol

I may not know the intriciate layers of law behind the US, a country I've never visited, but I certainly know what free speech is, hence my often touted frustration of the attack against it in the UK.

But even so, Nowhere is perfect, but I still think, unless statistics show otherwise, that the US has the greatest amount of freedom to speak what one desires. Protests are a fuzzy area; they could have been illegally operated for example (this has been the case on some occasions), and even if that were the case, it's still true that the majority of incarcerated individuals are in for drugs, and the vast majority of the rest are for violent crimes - 52.4% in state prisons in 2008.

There would be a small fraction in there for 'subversion of state' or criticism of government. Again - I've no doubt this does happen, but it's more the exception than the rule, compared to anywhere else I can think of. The only other way I can see it is if they secretly arrest hundreds of thousands and skip them out of the statistics to trick me but... no evidence

the best strategy for destroying free speech is to do it indirectly.

"But even so, Nowhere is perfect, but I still think, unless statistics show otherwise, that the US has the greatest amount of freedom to speak what one desires. "

I need statistics proving this true first, I dont see many other "first world" countries rounding up protesters and taking direct action against political figures (like sending police to their house likely in an effort to kill them in a "welfare check", luckily in the recent example they werent home)

the police here directly give support to fascist activities in an effort to suppress every freedom of minorities, not just speech.

also, the majority of the upper gov just ignores the law (has for a long time). So it really doesnt matter how well you know it

I believe @mobb is making this post due to my comments on the Steemitblog's TOS post.

Plenty of European Countries lock people up on all sides of the spectrum just for being offensive online.

i read the first link, it seems like they are arresting alt-right, which is fine by me

Indeed, most people in the US seem to land in prison for very minor offenses, like carrying marihuana, jaywalking or a small tax avoidance. Furthermore, they're trying to be kept as long as possible in those private prisons, as the owner of these profit from these inmates. Not only that, but when you're poor and can't afford a good lawyer, you're even more likely to end up in jail, as the Jury has to feel good about the person being locked up, no matter if they're actually guilty. Once convicted, you're also very likely of reentering prison as "reintegration into society"-policies are almost nonexistent in US prisons.

There's so much wrong in the US system, but I'd prefer this way more over what's happening in PR China.
Being potentially put in jail for jaywalking, or having your organs harvested for practicing some yoga-equivalent... I do not have to decide for very long here.

Haha nice omission of falun-gong there. Keep the lips sealed.

But yeah I don't deny at any moment that the US doesn't have it bad, isn't it something like 25% of total inmates are in the US?

But if I were to compete, more people are put to death in China than the rest of the world combined - by a long shot. And that's only going by the confirmed numbers. there's a whole bunch that simply... disappear. I'll take the jaywalking ticket any day

Haha nice omission of falun-gong there. Keep the lips sealed.

I didn't want to say it, as I don't want to provoke any troubles more than already exist here.
But, yes, I was implicitly referring to them.

isn't it something like 25% of total inmates are in the US?

Yes, seems about right.

put to death in China than the rest of the world combined - by a long shot. And that's only going by the confirmed numbers. there's a whole bunch that simply... disappear.

I think it'd be likely that China could compete with the US when they'd abolish the death penalty and keep "track" of those "disappearing".

Yes, and right now since we have free speech we are able to speak out against these injustices. In china it isn't possible in almost any area unfortunately.

I think the USA is going to lead the way in these areas after we get our heads out of our asses. We shouldn't put millions in jail for drugs unless they harmed someone or stole something. It creates second class citizens who cannot get good jobs anymore and it ostracizes them.

It's so easy for us who live in countries with free speech to forget who potentially dangerous this can be for those of you who don't. I don't think Steemit Inc. is even allowed to store your phone numbers if you ask them to delete is, and it's not like they can ever delete your entire account.

I hope Steemit Inc. actually take these concerns seriously, instead of just ignoring them. As you said, they probably just update the terms to cover their ass, but didn't consider how badly it could affect users in other parts of the world.

Yep. I imagine it's not going to be much of a concern currently given the small size of the entire blockchain but as things inevitably grow, attention will be gotten, and that's how it starts =/

Yep, if Steem grows to be the place a lot of people hope for, governments are definitely going to also be taking notice of it. Let's hope Steemit Inc. can respond to your concerns before that point.

I really do hope that China will keep out of Steemit's business.

Ack, who am I kidding - from the information I've gathered, I just hope they let it "slide" and don't arrest their citizen for simple critiques on their shady practices. But, I can only hope.

Your fear is justified, so I will - by no means - downplay it.
I can only hope, that things will turn out better than we assume they will.

You don't really even need to criticize. They love to take credit, so if you do something small that's good for the country, they'll have it reported positively in state run media all over. But if it starts gaining footing of its own and spreading too far too fast, they'll stamp it out because they can no longer control it their way.

This is what I mean when I say anything can become illegal at any given time, so what I write here doesn't have to be subversion, it could be any whimsical thing =/

But Steemit is small enough at the moment that I'll likely be fine (especially since I'm a foreigner, they tend to turn a blind eye to save on the paperwork)

China has access to the ISP info, they don't need to collect it from Steemit INC, they collected all of it as you sent it out from your computer. A special bot placed it in a record under your IP and mapped it to your personal use profile.

Unless you took precautions during the sign up process, you're already boned if you say anything that causes trouble.

Well I use the best stealth VPN there is that should take actions against it, and this new laptop I've avoided installing any Chinese software but yeah, I'm sure they've wriggled their way in at this point... Sigh

Quite a pathetic case. Don't even know the rationale behind this sudden change in rules and terms. I think with people like you speaking up against this I'll thought out plan, the authority will have to look into it and make necessary adjustments. So far so bad.


@eurogee of @euronation and @steemstem communities

I can kind of see where they're coming from. If you can imagine @ned getting taken into custody and his whole company shut down, the fate of the blockchain may suffer severely. It may not die, per se, but it would be a major set back taking us to the early days again, but with none of the investment.

That being said, they just need to be more thorough in everything they do because evidently, they just don't do that for some reason =/

Good luck with adjustments your end!

I get that now. Somewhat logical though

Man, you are right.
And funny to see the US citizens jumping on your back 'but we have it also worse'.
They don't know shit.
Living a life in a free country with some mishaps is so different from living in a real police state.
Lived long enough in China to have seen some parts of the oppression.
Never in those other countries, where freedom still is valued. And I know, that they cover up a lot, so we Laowai don't see anything.
Have an upvote and a resteem:)
No need to comment, "they" will definitely read this.

'they' didn't say the US have it worse, they're just pointing out that my description of the US is not accurate, which is up for debate. They clearly said they're not trying to downplay China. I mean, they couldn't - there's no competition

@mobbs while the personalise information is also needs for Legal works, illegal is fraudulent So be stay & safe by following the personalised information for every Terms of Service and conditions.

'Illegal' is in the eye of the beholder, or the government in question. What I say might be safe in England, and heavily illegal in China

News are real and very right click

That sounds like a real issue. A solution could be for Steemit Inc. To define "illegal" as "illegal under US law"?

This is a good point. Multiple languages might help too! Though I'm sure they can get in trouble in any country a server is held...?

Please teach yourself about European Union's latest internet and data protection laws.
Unfortunately I cannot take your fears from you but this legislation might be the mere reason for the change.

I'm vaguely aware of it, possibly as a result of the Facebook fiasco right? As I said in the post though I don't think they have such intent, their ToS allows for them to do the things I fear above. It's like installing software that has a virus built in, but only in the next, automatic update. Thanks for reminding me to read up more on the EU law though!

I'm vaguely aware of it, possibly as a result of the Facebook fiasco right?

These laws have been in work since over two years, so I doubt Facebook was a huge factor in it, but the scandal is just "lucky coincidence".

their ToS allows for them to do the things I fear above.

I highly assume that, when promoting such a platform, they didn't have countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia or PR China in mind, when they wrote these ToS.
A simple change to "illegal under US or European law" would definitely help.


Hey @mobbs!
First of all, thanks for quoting me here :-)
I don't think I dismissed anybody, but only tried to rectify since there was an obvious mix up of terms. is not Steem, and people tend to forget about that.

As I mentioned in our initial conversation, I firmly believe we're all accountable for our own doings. Whether we publish content in centralized or decentralized systems, it's still our content. So why would anybody but us assume the possible consequences of that?

I wonder why you published a lot of personal information about yourself (and even a picture) in your introduction post on if you were planning to publish content that is illegal in your country of residence?

Sorry for being so cheeky, but someone who asks for cooperation and support and then uses the term STINC needs to deal with a rebound....:-))

Independently from our different points of view, this is an important topic to talk about, so I'm happy we're having this conversation and politely exchanging ideas.

Steem on!

Hey - I didn't meant for dismiss to be used in as negative a light as I can probably see it now =)

I wonder why you published a lot of personal information about yourself

As I said in the initial conversation, This was never my goal. I first started with no goal at all, then I went into STEM and now, a full year later (aside from a mini few posts near the beginning), I decided on this series. People's ideas and passions change, yo.

As I also said in the other discussion, it's not actually about my particular situation. Subversion of state in China can be anything from winnie the pooh to helping charity and promoting equality. There's no telling what the government will decide is illegal. So yeah it's irrelevant what I joined up planning to do. For all I know my post on Pedophiles could be dug up one day when China believes any mention of it deserves a death penalty. Who knows?

And I like cheekiness - no worried =)

You will have to excuse surfermarley, from my conversation with her my take away is that she doesn't believe the mountains of evidence that China literally kills citizens and or jails them for winnie the pooh, or sharing a meme, or things like this.

I learn from your publications that everything is so harsh with freedom of speech in China. Why do not you leave this country forever? Especially since you already work in another country, if I understand you correctly. Do your relatives agree with your opinion about the situation with censorship?

I don't really talk to relatives about this kinda thing. As for 'if you don't like it, get out' - well, I could. But there's practical and philosophical reasons for me not to:

A) My life was already established here by the time I started learning about the nitty gritty
B) I do actually intend on leaving, but I have nowhere else to go (no home in England, would have to start from scratch)
C) My cat is here and it takes thousands of dollars and 8 months to get it out due to strict UK regulations, andd to stay here that long (given no home elsewhere) I'd need a visa that keeps me here, as in, a job with a year+ contract)
D) If I go and live a life of shelter and comfort, I become somebody I don't want to be, somebody who just puts their fingers in their ears by surrounding themselves with media that gives them comfort by being in a nation of comparative freedom. I've learnt more than one can imagine about this corner of the world by being here, and I think that's important.
E) I live a good life here, but I live it in spite of the government, not because of it. China itself is fine (pollution, population issues aside) - I don't want to hate an entire population of people because of the leading party's influence on me.

It's strange, but many of my friends work in China and they like it.

It's hard to live like this when even among relatives there are contradictions. I wish you to find a better path for yourself.

You can live a comfortable life here, that's the thing. If you're willing to just ignore what's going on all around you and you just live your own bubble of life - as I do - this country has a wealth of opportunity and growth waiting for you. That's the thing that makes people stay, I think. But the vast majority live in the Eastern cities - the wealth belt where the majority of China's economy resides. The further west you go, the more the picture changes to a darker one...

I'm enjoying my path don't worry!

No pasarán!

I think technically they would likely have to comply with laws and governments anyway. The only extra info they might be able to get is the phone number and your IP. It might be a good idea to make a separate account with no visible link to you if you're really concerned. I'm not sure if this actually changes anything...but it makes people more paranoid, which might be a good thing.

I'm not a conspiracy or paranoid type, really, and I genuinely have no plans to go around breaking the law at every turn. Just, thinking about it from who knows how many other people's perspectives - Chinese people who can't read the English ToS, for example - worries me

Curated for #informationwar (by @openparadigm)
Relevance: Cause For Concern?
Our Purpose

I am no expert when it comes to the law myself, especially not when it comes to chinese laws.

This is a very important and interesting topic though. That being said, I don't know what kind of illegal content you have posted or intend to posted, but unrelated to the question at hand, you should reconsider posting anything that could cause you problems in your home country.

As far as I can tell, nothing 'illegal'. It doesn't work like that here. The CCP doesn't require a law to be put in place and established before they arrest somebody. I think I'm safe for now, I'll only be talking facts for the most part =)

Well, this certainly sounds like you are boned anyway. In that case, finding a way to leave china sounds like an idea I would entertain if I were you.

I was thinking that one of the characteristics of blockchain is anonymity. Hope this would not be compromised in the long run?

Since, for the major part of it, government has denied us the freedom of speech, are we also going to be cautious on blockchain?

I guess freedom ain't free after all

There are some blockchains that are totally anonymous but I don't think Steemit ever was one - although you could be anonymous in the same way you can on Facebook or whatever just by changing your information - or use anonsteem. But yeah speech freedom is a tricky thing. In the west people are actively fighting against freedom of speech because it 'hurts their feelings' haha. So we'll see...

In this part of the world; the freedom could exist before the speech, but after the speech, the freedom ceases to exist. Maybe they shouldn't even call it "freedom of speech" in the first place.

Sorry, not sure what the answer is. Steemit Policy is written to protect itself from the legal system in the United States. It is the laws they have to operate under. I know they added in language specific to the EU laws for people, but not sure if say England told steemit owners they need this person name and phone number that they would have to provide it. They are operating under US law, have no offices I am aware of in the EU, and steemit sales nothing, all they do is provide a space for people to say things.

Sure the countries can block steemit web sites, but they can not block the blockchain. So there will be options to get on the blockchain. At least I do not think they can block the block chain.

It would have to be some pretty fantastic technology to block an entire blockchain I'd imagine. So it seems there's just an open chasm of grey areas we have to work with! This is hardly un common (e.g. Fair Use) but still frustrating =/

Honestly, these are fair questions to ask.

Oh Good, I always worry about coming across as a dumbo with legal stuff