Dang'an is a Chinese word meaning "record". Used in the political and administrative context, it means an archival system that records the "performance and attitudes" of citizens of mainland China. Together with the hukou, it has been an important part of the government's efforts to maintain control of its people. Majority of the records are kept by the local archive bureaus, some by the State Archives Administration of China at the national level.
The Dang'an includes information possibly found in a Western CV: physical characteristics, employment record, photograph, etc. However, it also contains many other documents that would be considered private in some other cultures. According to Wang Fei-ling and other sources, this includes appraisals by supervisors and peers, academic reports from primary school to university, professional credentials, any criminal convictions or administrative penalties, club/society memberships, employment records and political history (such as Youth League and CPC membership and assessments). Some of the material is composed by the subject. Even the death certificate and eulogy may be placed in the file.
There are two copies for adults: one held on behalf of their work unit by its supervisory organization, and the other at the local Public Security Bureau (PSB). Access to dang'an is strictly controlled. Citizens do not usually see their dang'an, although they may ask a Communist Party member to check it for them. Alterations may only be carried out by special cadres, and when combined with the custom of guanxi the result is that "Personal revenge, false entries and special favors are thus part of the game."Once upon a time, I worked for a company that decided that I could not interview for a job in another business unit of the same company. To say that I was upset is a gross understatement. I first swerved into the concept of Dang'an then. After running into a policy that wasn't published or known to anyone else in the company, I called it the Iron Curtain. The truth is that there was no such policy, just an agreement among the executives that the one business unit wouldn't "poach" employees from the business unit that sucked. I even had those Chinese characters as my desktop image for a while because I simply felt like it epitomized my predicament. A character I couldn't read or write, a "policy" that was never published, and the powerful making decisions about what I could and could not do to advance my career.
A Montreal-based human rights group has claimed that the PSB in the process of computerizing the hundreds of millions of dang'an.
But that can’t happen here, right?
This story brought the term to mind again
Who Should Have Access to Student Records?
According to a 2009 report by the Fordham University Center on Law and Information Policy, some states store student’s social security numbers, family financial information, and student pregnancy data. Nearly half of states track students’ mental health issues, illnesses, and jail sentences.Without access to their child’s data, parents have no way of knowing what teachers and others are learning about them. (emphasis mine)A quick search found that I'm not the first to draw this linkage-just the latest.
The federal government is taking steps to make the data more secure, however. In December, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act was revised to give parents more control over their children’s records. According to a parent information sheet released by the government, the revisions give parents “certain rights with regard to their children’s education records, such as the right to inspect and review [their] child’s education records.” But it also allows student information to be shared without parental consent.
“Your child’s information may be disclosed to another school in which your child is enrolling, or to local emergency responders in connection with a health or safety emergency,” it says.
John Taylor Gatto has studied out the creation of Big Education and talks specifically about Dang'an here.
Every day, I learn something new. And most of the time, it’s not good. Or as CA says, as bad as you think things are, they’re really worse . Most of the time, it shows me how shamefully asleep I am.
The endarkenment continues full speed ahead.