The publication specifies in particular that the application extracts e-mails, text messages, contact information and information on the handset. Visitors have not been informed of what is happening.
It appears that at one of the many stages of the crossing, travelers are forced to unlock and return their phones and other devices such as cameras. The devices are then taken to a separate room before being returned “sometime later”.
During this short passage in the hands of the authorities, the Guardian said that iPhones are plugged into a drive that scans them, while for Android phones an app is installed and, in most cases, uninstalled before the phone be returned.
Although we do not know where all the extracted information is and for how long it is stored, it is part of the rigorous monitoring regime put in place in the Xinjiang region.
In February, ZDNet announced that one of the facial recognition databases used by the Chinese government to track Xinjiang’s Uyghur Muslim population had been left open on the Internet for months.
The database contained information on just over 2.5 million users, as well as a stream of GPS coordinates. The database contained a list of “trackers” and was based on the website of SenseNets – the Chinese company responsible for the database. These trackers appeared to be the locations of public cameras from which videos were filmed and analyzed.
In May, ZDNet also announced that the Chinese government is using scan portal systems to record three-dimensional biometric images, as well as disk images of smartphones from Muslims living in Xinjiang Province.
These devices are installed as security checkpoints at entrances to government buildings and in various public spaces held by police officers. Since mid-2017, the local government has forced members of the Muslim minority to install a spyware application on their phone called Jingwang (Citizen Safety).
The application allows the government to analyze the device for “terrorist propaganda”.
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