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China gets caught spying on tourists by forcing them to download an app

China gets caught spying on tourists by forcing them to download an app

According to a recent investigation, border agents in the Xinjiang region of China have requisitioned the smartphones of some tourists entering the Asian country, with the aim of spying and collecting data through an app they are forced to install.

The events have occurred in Xinjiang, at the border crossing between China and Kyrgyzstan, an area that in recent years has intensified its surveillance systems through facial recognition systems on the streets and in the mosques of its large Muslim community.

Now, thanks to the joint research of The New York Times, The Guardian, Vice and Süddeutsche Zeitung we have learned that the Chinese government has decided to go one step further and start spying on tourists by installing an application on their smartphones.

According to reports, once visitors arrive at border control, the agents asks them to hand over their smartphones. Not only that, they also require your passwords and unlock codes. Once collected, the officers take the devices to another room, where they can spend up to an hour analyzing them.

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China (once again) in the eye of the hurricane / © crystal51 / Shutterstock

How are they spying on tourists?

If the device is an Android, it installs a spyware application, which scans the content of the smartphone, whether contacts, apps, call history, text messages ... Once the information has been collected, the data is uploaded to a server, which searches for some of the 73,000 content types that the Chinese authorities consider dangerous, such as extracts from the Koran, or texts by the Dalai Lama or linked to Islamist extremism. On the other hand, in the case of the iPhone, these phones are connected to a machine in charge of the whole process, without the need to install an application for it.

For the time being, it is not known where all the information collected is going, nor how long it is stored for. In theory, agents would be obligated to delete the app after this process, but they don't always do it. In addition, at no time are tourists informed of the process they are about to undergo.

What do you think of this kind of practice?

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