In recent months an increasingly lively debate about online privacy has taken hold in an unexpected place - China. Yes, the same China that has grand ambitions for a “social credit system” that would reward and punish citizens based on what their on- and offline behavior tells the state about their civic virtues. But China’s hundreds of millions of internet users care about who has access to their personal data, and the government in Beijing is increasingly taking up their cause. Over the next 12 months, some key regulations will be hammered out to better protect online privacy. Paradoxical? Yes, but not if you look a little more closely at what kinds of privacy are at issue, and how the government sees the issue through a broader geopolitical lens.

First, Chinese internet users care more about fraud right now than about government snooping. Black markets in personal data are a growing problem in China – according to one recent survey cited in the Financial Times, 85 percent of respondents reported their information being misused. Beijing wants to get a handle on this pronto.

Meanwhile, the public pretty much accepts that the government can easily access citizens’ personal information – whether it’s scanning their faces with surveillance cameras or sifting through social media posts for verboten content – for reasons of public order and national security, minus the warrants that would typically be required in a democracy.

Beijing is looking for new ways to promote its home-grown internet companies abroad – and rein them in at home. Stronger privacy regulations for private sector firms allow China to do both: They increase the chance that privacy-sensitive Western consumers will warm to Chinese internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent as they take their web services global. They also give Beijing new levers of influence over a handful of large, influential companies whose access to giant data sets already means they probably have a better view into the state of the Chinese economy and public opinion than the bureaucrats in Beijing.

So when you read that China is developing strict new privacy regulations that rival those in Europe, keep in mind: it’s still privacy with Chinese characteristics.

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner of McKinsey & Company, answers the question: Are CEOs getting real about climate change?

The answer, yes. Why? One, it's personal. Many have watched with horror the wildfires that took place recently. Others have even been evacuated. And for some, the snow set in Davos, they experienced incredibly mild temperatures that laid all to quip that climate change really has arrived. But the other reasons are a growing understanding of the nature of climate change.


Welcome to the eleventh parliamentary elections in Iran's 40-year history.

Want to run for a seat? You can…if you're an Iranian citizen between the ages of 30 and 75, hold a master's degree or its equivalent, have finished your military service (if you're a man), and have demonstrated a commitment to Islam. Check all these boxes, and you can ask permission to run for office.

Permission comes from the 12-member Guardian Council, a body composed of six clerics appointed by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and six jurists that Khamenei appoints indirectly. If the Council says yes, you can win a seat in parliament. If they say no, you can't.

This parliament, also called the Majlis, does have real power. It approves the national budget, drafts legislation and sends it to the Guardian Council for approval, ratifies treaties, approves ministers and can question the president. The current Majlis represents a wide range of values and opinions.


As the head of a leading management consulting firm, global managing partner of McKinsey & Company Kevin Sneader has an inside view into the challenges facing the world's top executives. Every Thursday, Sneader will address questions about key issues like attracting and retaining talent, growing revenue, navigating change, staying ahead of the competition, and corporate responsibility – all in 60 seconds.

GZERO's Alex Kliment interviews New Yorker correspondent and author Joshua Yaffa. The two discuss Yaffa's new book, Between Two Fires, about what life is like for Russians today. They also sample some vodka at a famous Russian restaurant in NYC, of course!