Chinese authorities are reportedly forcing some of the country’s ethnic minorities to install intrusive government Surveillance software onto their devices, according to a new report.
The intrusive surveillance efforts are taking place in Xinjiang, a Region in western China that’s home to much of the country’s Muslim minority. Last week, local authorities in the area sent a notice to residents instructing them to install a “surveillance” app on their phones, and announced that they would be making spot checks to ensure that locals complied with the order, Radio Free Asia reported. Users who deleted or did not download the app could be detained for up to 10 days, according to local social media reports.
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The instruction was sent via WeChat to residents in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. It was written both in Mandarin and Uyghur, a language spoken by the Uighur ethnic population in the region. The notice contained a QR code that would download an app called Jingwang, which authorities claimed would “automatically detect terrorist and illegal religious videos, images, e-books and electronic documents” stored on a device. If any banned content was detected, the app would urge residents to delete it.
Local analysis shows that Jinwang scans for the digital signatures of media files against a database of illegal “terrorist-related” media and content, Mashable reported. The app also records copies of Weibo and WeChat data, as well as a device’s IMEI number, SIM card data, and Wi-Fi login data. This data is apparently logged and sent to an unknown server. The app is similar to a previous “citizen safety” platform developed in-house by Urumqi police which allowed users to report suspicious activity.
The move is just the latest in a longer trend of surveillance ramp-up in the region. Xinjiang is home to about 8 million Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic minority who have long complained of being oppressed under the communist Chinese government, according to the BBC.
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