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posted by martyb on Wednesday July 03 2019, @02:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the electronic-palandir dept.

China Snares Tourists' Phones in Surveillance Dragnet by Adding Secret App

China has turned its western region of Xinjiang into a police state with few modern parallels, employing a combination of high-tech surveillance and enormous manpower to monitor and subdue the area's predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities. Now, the digital dragnet is expanding beyond Xinjiang's residents, ensnaring tourists, traders and other visitors — and digging deep into their smartphones.

A team of journalists from The New York Times and other publications examined a policing app used in the region, getting a rare look inside the intrusive technologies that China is deploying in the name of quelling Islamic radicalism and strengthening Communist Party rule in its Far West. The use of the app has not been previously reported.

China's border authorities routinely install the app on smartphones belonging to travelers who enter Xinjiang by land from Central Asia, according to several people interviewed by the journalists who crossed the border recently and requested anonymity to avoid government retaliation. Chinese officials also installed the app on the phone of one of the journalists during a recent border crossing. Visitors were required to turn over their devices to be allowed into Xinjiang. The app gathers personal data from phones, including text messages and contacts. It also checks whether devices are carrying pictures, videos, documents and audio files that match any of more than 73,000 items included on a list stored within the app's code.

Those items include Islamic State publications, recordings of jihadi anthems and images of executions. But they also include material without any connection to Islamic terrorism, an indication of China’s heavy-handed approach to stopping extremist violence. There are scanned pages from an Arabic dictionary, recorded recitations of Quran verses, a photo of the Dalai Lama and even a song by a Japanese band of the earsplitting heavy-metal style known as grindcore.

“The Chinese government, both in law and practice, often conflates peaceful religious activities with terrorism,” Maya Wang, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch, said. “You can see in Xinjiang, privacy is a gateway right: Once you lose your right to privacy, you’re going to be afraid of practicing your religion, speaking what’s on your mind or even thinking your thoughts.”

Xinjiang.

Also at The Guardian and The Hill.

Related: China Bans Islam-Related Names in Xinjiang
Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China
China Forces its Muslim Minority to Install Spyware on Their Phones
Massive DNA Collection Campaign Continues in Xinjiang, China


Original Submission

Related Stories

Politics: China Bans Islam-Related Names in Xinjiang 56 comments

Officials in Xinjiang will deny benefits to children with certain Islamic or Islam-related names:

Many couples fret over choosing the perfect name for their newborn, but for Muslims in western China that decision has now become even more fraught: pick the wrong name and your child will be denied education and government benefits.

Officials in the western region of Xinjiang, home to roughly half of China's 23 million Muslims, have released a list of banned baby names amid an ongoing crackdown on religion, according to a report by US-funded Radio Free Asia.

Names such as Islam, Quran, Saddam and Mecca, as well as references to the star and crescent moon symbol, are all unacceptable to the ruling Communist party and children with those names will be denied household registration, a crucial document that grants access to social services, healthcare and education.

Muhammad, Jihad, Medina, Mujahid, Arafat, Imam, Hajj, and Yultuzay are also banned.

Also at NYT. Reuters story about other restrictions that went into effect on April 1st.

Related: West Facing 'Payback' for Colonialism, says China's State-run Paper
China's Xi Jinping Negotiates $46bn Superhighway to Pakistan
Facebook's Zuckerberg Meets With China's Propaganda Chief, Social Media Mocks Facebook Block


Original Submission

Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China 21 comments

Chinese police are amassing a huge amount of genetic information in Xinjiang:

Police in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, China, have been collecting DNA samples from citizens and are now ramping up their capacity to analyse that genetic cache, according to evidence compiled by activists and details gathered by Nature. The advocacy group Human Rights Watch reported last month that Xinjiang authorities intend to accelerate efforts to gather blood samples from the region's large population of Muslim Uighur people. China's government has cracked down on Xinjiang's separatist movement in recent years, so the prospect of a DNA database there has stoked fears that authorities could use it as a political weapon.

[...] In its report, the organization said that Xinjiang's police had ordered 12 DNA sequencers. Nature has confirmed the order and learned, from documents and interviews with those involved in the transaction, that the police have purchased enough machines to process up to 2,000 DNA samples per day. The police department hung up when Nature rang to ask about the reason for the purchase.

[...] Many countries use DNA fingerprinting to solve crimes, reunite kidnapped children with their parents and identify bodies, and some researchers say that the boost in Xinjiang's DNA-analysis capacity does not, by itself, stand out. "Expansion of police surveillance is expected by any civilized nation," says Sara Katsanis, who researches the applications of genetic testing at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.

Still, Katsanis and others worry about how DNA is being collected in China and especially in Xinjiang. Last year, Human Rights Watch reported that citizens in Xinjiang were required to give a blood sample to get a passport. And in March, Chinese state media detailed the conclusion of a 4-month programme during which 17.5 million people — who were predominantly Uighurs — were given health checks, including blood tests. Last week, reports emerged that many of the people who underwent these examinations had been forced to do so.

Previously:
China Bans Islam-Related Names in Xinjiang


Original Submission

China Forces its Muslim Minority to Install Spyware on Their Phones 25 comments

http://mashable.com/2017/07/21/china-spyware-xinjiang/

China has ramped up surveillance measures in Xinjiang, home to much of its Muslim minority population, according to reports from Radio Free Asia.

Authorities sent out a notice over a week ago instructing citizens to install a "surveillance app" on their phones, and are conducting spot checks in the region to ensure that residents have it.

pic.twitter.com/NnNvc7foV4

— Delinda Tien (@TienDelinda) July 14, 2017

The notice, written in Uyghur and Chinese, was sent by WeChat to residents in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital. 

Android users were instructed to scan the QR code in order to install the Jingwang app that would, as authorities claimed, "automatically detect terrorist and illegal religious videos, images, e-books and electronic documents" stored in the phone. If illegal content was detected, users would be ordered to delete them.

Users who deleted, or did not install the app, would be detained for up to 10 days, according to social media users.


Original Submission

Massive DNA Collection Campaign Continues in Xinjiang, China 33 comments

Human Rights Watch has issued a report about DNA collection in Xinjiang province in China:

Chinese police have started gathering blood types, DNA samples, fingerprints and iris scans from millions of people in its Muslim-majority Xinjiang province to build a massive citizen database, according to report by activist group Human Rights Watch.

The report, published Wednesday, said officials are collecting the data from citizens between the ages of 12 and 65 years old using a variety of methods. Authorities are gathering DNA and blood types through free medical checkups, and HRW said it was unclear if patients were aware that their biometric data was being collected for the police during these physical exams.

According to the report, citizens authorities have flagged as a potential threat to the regime, and their families—named "focus personnel"—are forced to hand over their DNA regardless of age.

So far, 18.8 million citizens have participated in the medical checkups, called "Physicals for All" by the government, according to an article by a state news agency Xinhua on November 1.

Previously: Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China


Original Submission

Apple Lashes Out After Google Reveals iPhone/iOS Vulnerabilities 12 comments

Apple takes flak for disputing iOS security bombshell dropped by Google

Apple is taking flak for disputing some minor details of last week's bombshell report that, for at least two years, customers' iOS devices were vulnerable to a sting[sic] of zeroday exploits, at least some of which were actively exploited to install malware that stole location data, passwords, encryption keys, and a wealth of other highly sensitive data.

Google's Project Zero said the attacks were waged indiscriminately from a small collection of websites that "received thousands of visitors per week." One of the five exploit chains Project Zero researchers analyzed showed they "were likely written contemporaneously with their supported iOS versions." The researcher's conclusion: "This group had a capability against a fully patched iPhone for at least two years."

Earlier this week, researchers at security firm Volexity reported finding 11 websites serving the interests of Uyghur Muslims that the researchers believed were tied to the attacks Project Zero identified. Volexity's post was based in part on a report by TechCrunch citing unnamed people familiar with the attacks who said they were the work of [a] nation—likely China—designed to target the Uyghur community in the country's Xinjiang state.

[...]For a week, Apple said nothing about any of the reports. Then on Friday, it issued a statement that critics are characterizing as tone-deaf for its lack of sensitivity to human rights and an overfocus on minor points.

[...]

Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at UC Berkeley's International Computer Science Institute, summed up much of this criticism by tweeting: “The thing that bugs me most about Apple these days is that they are all-in on the Chinese market and, as such, refuse to say something like ‘A government intent on ethnic cleansing of a minority population conducted a mass hacking attack on our users.’"

[...]Apple had an opportunity to apologize to those who were hurt, thank the researchers who uncovered systemic flaws that caused the failure, and explain how it planned to do better in the future. It didn't do any of those things. Now, the company has distanced itself from the security community when it needs it most.

See also: The stakes are too high for Apple to spin the iPhone exploits
Apple says Uighurs targeted in iPhone attack but disputes Google findings

Related: China Forces its Muslim Minority to Install Spyware on Their Phones
China Installs Surveillance App on Smartphones of Visitors to Xinjiang Region


Original Submission

Notepad++ Inundated by Chinese Comments and Hit by DDoS Attack After "Free Uyghur Edition" 28 comments

Just take a look at the carnage on Notepad++'s GitHub: 'Free Uyghur' release sparks spam tsunami by pro-Chinese

On Tuesday, Don HO, the developer of Notepad++, a free GPL source code editor and notepad application for Microsoft Windows, released version 7.8.1, prompting a social media firestorm and a distributed denial of service attack. Notepad++ v7.8.1 was designated "the Free Uyghur edition," in reference to the predominantly Muslim ethnic group in western China that faces ongoing human rights violations and persecution at the hands of Beijing.

"The site notepad-plus-plus.org has suffered DDoS attack from 1230 to 1330 Paris time," HO said in an email to The Register. "I saw the [reduced] amount of visitors via Google analytics then the support of my host confirmed the attack. The DDoS attack has been stopped by an anti-DDoS service provided by our host [Cloudflare]."

[...] For expressing that sentiment, the project's website was DDoSed and its GitHub code repository has been flooded with angry comments in the Issues section – intended for people to report bugs or offer suggestions.

HO said Notepad++'s Tiananmen Square release didn't really attract much attention. The Charlie Hebdo release, however, got his site hacked. "The reaction of this time is more like 'Boycott Beijing 2008 OG' on the Notepad++ website, while Notepad++ was on SourceForge," he said, noting that SourceForge forum was similarly flooded by Chinese spammers in 2008.

Also at The Verge.

Related: China Forces its Muslim Minority to Install Spyware on Their Phones
Massive DNA Collection Campaign Continues in Xinjiang, China
China Installs Surveillance App on Smartphones of Visitors to Xinjiang Region
Apple Lashes Out After Google Reveals iPhone/iOS Vulnerabilities


Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

U.S. Places Sanctions on DJI and Biotech Groups for Mass Surveilance of Uyghurs in Xinjiang 29 comments

U.S. Cracks Down on Firms Said to Aid China's Repression of Minorities

The Biden administration said on Thursday that it would put limits on doing business with a group of Chinese companies and institutions it says are involved in misusing biotechnology to surveil and repress Muslim minorities in China and advancing Beijing's military programs.

In announcing one set of the moves, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said China was employing biotechnology and medical innovation "to pursue control over its people and its repression of members of ethnic and religious minority groups."

The administration said those efforts included the use of biometric facial recognition and large-scale genetic testing of residents 12 to 65 in the mostly Muslim region of Xinjiang.

China has used such technology to track and control the Uyghurs, a predominately Muslim ethnic group.

[...] In its announcement on Thursday, the Biden administration said Beijing was using advances in biotechnology to drive forward its military modernization. A senior administration official called out China's work to edit human genes for performance enhancement and create ways for human brains to connect more directly to machines.

Also caught in the crosshairs is the drone company DJI, for providing drones used by the Xinjiang Public Security Bureau to surveil Uyghurs, Megvii, which makes artificial intelligence and facial recognition software, and Dawning Information Industry (also known as Sugon), a manufacturer of supercomputers and provider of cloud-computing services.

See also: Disney under fire for 'Mulan' credits that thank Chinese groups linked to detention camps

Previously: Massive DNA Collection Campaign in Xinjiang, China
Massive DNA Collection Campaign Continues in Xinjiang, China
China Installs Surveillance App on Smartphones of Visitors to Xinjiang Region
DNA Databases in the U.S. and China are Tools of Racial Oppression
The Panopticon is Already Here: China's Use of "Artificial Intelligence"


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by fustakrakich on Wednesday July 03 2019, @02:36AM (8 children)

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Wednesday July 03 2019, @02:36AM (#862592) Journal

    I'm sure all the usual rules apply when crossing international borders.

    Leave your good shit at home...

    As for the editorializing, please, stop...

    --
    La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @03:52AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @03:52AM (#862601)

      There's a Weedle crawling into the deepest reaches of your ass, as well-dressed government agents sit in a high-class boardroom observing the footage of it doing so. REH REH REH

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @05:15AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @05:15AM (#862609)

      Jeez.. the article sounds like the Chinese are after the muslims - lets be clear they don't discriminate when going against anyone undermining the Communist party power. There are similar examples against practitioners of other religions where the party have oppressed and is continuing to oppress. The folks at NY times smells like a bigot...

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by khallow on Wednesday July 03 2019, @11:44AM (2 children)

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 03 2019, @11:44AM (#862660) Journal

        The folks at NY times smells like a bigot...

        Why? Because the NYT mentioned oppression of a group you don't like?

        • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 04 2019, @12:52AM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 04 2019, @12:52AM (#862994)

          No because they made it sound like they're oppressing muslims for being muslims. They aren't they oppress anyone that they see as a threat to their power base - regardless if they're muslims. Mentioning the fact that there's muslim minority there is utterly pointless and have absolutely nothing to do with the Communist party's behavior.

          All it does is contribute further to the divide the muslim world to everyone else - as in some disgruntled muslim will see it as an attack on their religion which it isn't.

          • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday July 04 2019, @05:02AM

            by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday July 04 2019, @05:02AM (#863038) Journal

            No because they made it sound like they're oppressing muslims for being muslims.

            Is that not accurate here?

            They aren't they oppress anyone that they see as a threat to their power base

            Even if true, it's still not mutually exclusive with the alleged viewpoint of the NYT.

            Mentioning the fact that there's muslim minority there is utterly pointless and have absolutely nothing to do with the Communist party's behavior.

            Except of course, the Communist Party wouldn't be oppressing them otherwise, right? Because then, they wouldn't have this characteristic which the Party considers a threat to their power base.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @06:32AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @06:32AM (#862617)

      As for the editorializing, please, stop...

      What editorializing? The Wikipedia link?!

    • (Score: 2, Touché) by khallow on Wednesday July 03 2019, @12:16PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 03 2019, @12:16PM (#862670) Journal

      As for the editorializing, please, stop...

      What editorializing? SN nor Takyon did it. And they didn't quote such from the NYT piece.

    • (Score: 2) by Rupert Pupnick on Wednesday July 03 2019, @12:44PM

      by Rupert Pupnick (7277) on Wednesday July 03 2019, @12:44PM (#862681) Journal

      Not sure why you’re so dismissive. Even if your opposition has no effect on Chinese surveillance policy, it’s more likely to come to neighborhood near you in the future if you don’t oppose it now.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @03:18AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @03:18AM (#862596)

    What if I brought a little pocket camera (and no smart phone)? Would they let me in?

    • (Score: 2) by arslan on Wednesday July 03 2019, @05:17AM

      by arslan (3462) on Wednesday July 03 2019, @05:17AM (#862610)

      Of course they would, after some prior arrangement with some wait time on your behalf. A couple comrades will probably flank either side of you - now the question is rather, would you go in?

  • (Score: -1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @03:50AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @03:50AM (#862600)

    Everything they publish is completely false!

    Our good friends in China are just trying to keep their people safe.

    This is just one more example of those enemies of the people lying about everything.

    There is no app. China knows they need borders. The liars at NYT want all the folks from those Mexican countries to come in and take our jobs and hard-earned tax dollars, so we don't have the resources to stop the invading Muslim hordes from taking over and implementing Sharia across our great country.

    They hate America and want to bring it down because they're secretly Muslims!

    We should be *more* like China and not allow these liars and hateful "journalists" to spew their lies and deception.

    We need a social credit system and an even greater Firewall. We're the greatest nation that ever existed, so we can out-China China easily. Let's do it!

    #MAGA

    • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @05:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @05:47AM (#862612)

      >when the troll tell less lies than the media...

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @04:52AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @04:52AM (#862607)

    I saw this article but didn't know too much about the relationship between the Chinese and the Uyghurs. I found a docu on Youtube that was extremely well put together, I highly recommend it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJ3fG-tnzCk [youtube.com]

    Wondering if anyone has an alternative take compared to the docu's narrative.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @06:55PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @06:55PM (#862849)

      If i were running china I would just banish all Muslims. Who cares whose land it used to be. You lose, now get out before we use you for military practice.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday July 03 2019, @07:26AM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday July 03 2019, @07:26AM (#862623) Homepage Journal

    Stasi could probably teach a few lessons. Those people would have been hell on wheels, if they had access to today's tech.

    --
    Don’t confuse the news with the truth.
  • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Wednesday July 03 2019, @11:03PM (2 children)

    by EvilJim (2501) on Wednesday July 03 2019, @11:03PM (#862944) Journal

    if my phone doesn't have enough storage to update currently installed apps, what would China do?

    • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @11:06PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 03 2019, @11:06PM (#862946)

      Put you in jail and take away your reading glasses.

      • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Thursday July 04 2019, @03:33AM

        by EvilJim (2501) on Thursday July 04 2019, @03:33AM (#863023) Journal

        woah, their social credit system is a harsh mistress.

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