Home Government Tech Policy China forces ethnic minority to install spyware

China forces ethnic minority to install spyware

Chinese authorities in the western province of Xinjiang have issued instructions to residents to install spyware on their mobile devices.

The rule is in place only in Xinjiang which has a large population of Uighurs who are Muslims. The existence of the order was revealed by Radio Free Asia.

Xinjiang has a history of social unrest with mass-scale riots taking place eight years ago.

The app in question, known as Jingwang, apparently searches mobile devices for files that match those on an official blacklist.

It is said to "automatically detect terrorist and illegal religious videos, images, e-books and electronic documents” that may be present on the device.

Chinese authorities are reportedly checking people at checkpoints to see if they have installed the application as they were ordered to.

According to a report in Infosecurity Magazine, a group of Kazakh women were arrested after their conversations on WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging platform, were monitored and deemed illegal.

China regularly cracks down on Internet freedoms, with one of the latest orders being a January fiat to make all VPNs not approved by the government illegal.

Xinjiang authorities have reportedly told all citizens and business owners to provide their ID cards, mobile phones, external drives, laptops, and any media storage to local police for “registration and scanning” by 1 August.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.