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China is Forcing Tourists to Install A Smartphone App That Steals Personal Data


Earlier this year in May, the Human Rights Watch exposed how police in a Chinese region called Xinjiang used a smartphone app to monitor (and oppress) its people. The app monitors everything, from flagging use of banned apps such as WhatsApp to gaining access to contacts, text messages, and almost everything else on a user’s smartphone. And this data would then be used by the police to decide which individuals to question or detain.

However, a new investigation carried out by Motherboard, The Guardian, the New York Times, and others, has now revealed that smartphone surveillance in Xinjiang is imposed on tourists as well. According to the report, foreigners crossing into Xinjiang are “forced to install a piece of malware on their phones that gives all of their text messages as well as other pieces of data to the authorities.”

The trickery

The malware, named Feng Cai or BXAQ, scans the target device’s files against a huge target list of over 70,000 files, including things like Islamic extremist content, and even things like installed copies of the Quran, “innocuous Islamic material, academic books on Islam by leading researchers, and even music from a Japanese metal band.”

China’s voice

China has repeatedly claimed that its actions in Xinjiang are internal affairs and the international community shouldn’t try to interfere with however China handles its “counter-terrorism” efforts within its borders. These report just go to show how China is carrying out mass surveillance under the guise of counter-terrorism, and not just on its locals, but even tourists and foreigners visiting the country are subjected to such invasive surveillance activities.

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3 thoughts on “China is Forcing Tourists to Install A Smartphone App That Steals Personal Data

  1. As a tourist you must comply with the rules or regulations of the area you are visiting. You have the option not to go to the said country, city or town to begin with. From what I’ve understood, it is known and China itself acknowledges and condones the practice. Your freedoms are always within the confines of the laws of the country you are in.

    In UK and USA your devices can be scanned at ports of entry, but no-one complains because these are considered to be “democratic” nations.

    1. Its a point of law and if you have to be there that’s the game they play, fair enough, but just because it is law doesn’t make it just. And about not seeing complaints about the west, I guess it comes down to where you hang out on the net.

  2. And most people are supporting Huawei OS and Huawei, shandisayi mega handibati Chinese brands.

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