In Wuhan, artist showcases over 300,000 stolen identities


Deng Yufeng has purchased personal data of 346,000 inhabitants of the city from the black market


A very special exhibition is on display in Wuhan thanks to artist Deng Yufeng. The artist has in fact purchased the personal data of 346,000 inhabitants of the city from the black market, and then published them in an installation.

The action, obviously provocative and measured, was accompanied by the sending of more than 300,000 text messages to the show, organized in an attempt to make people understand the extent of damage that a lack of data privacy regulations can entail. The exhibition was closed immediately by the authorities, who also placed the Chinese artist under investigation.


A three part exhibition displayed the extent to which big data manipulates private information


As in a real artistic exhibition, the exhibition was divided into sections. From big data, in which Deng showed the data acquired on the black market, to online shopping carried out by identities stolen on the black market of the web.

Names, ages, heights, telephone numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses, bank account details, salaries, vehicle number plates, online shopping history, hobbies, rail ticket purchases and other data have been printed on paper and processed with an ink that it made data invisible in daylight but visible in low light conditions.

A choreographic part was also added to the exhibition, with six volunteers sending over 300,000 text messages to the residents of Wuhan, inviting them to see how their secrets were put on display in this social experiment.


Privacy concerns are becoming increasingly apparent in China


Dang, questioned by the media on this initiative, explained his theory of the gray world, which is generated when there are both powerful and weak parts in society: “The existence of the ‘gray world’ has its roots in the lack of space to take refuge in the real world. An era of rapid industrial development will produce many complaints that can not be tackled over time, which accumulate and form a new space in society. This implies infinite desires and the transport of a morbid state. The ‘black market’ for data acquisition is one of these gray worlds “.

Moreover, privacy concerns are becoming more and more evident in China. A recent survey by Tencent Research and CCTV found that almost 80% of Chinese people are worried about the threat of AI to their privacy.

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