The close monitoring by which the Chinese government controls the Muslim minority of the Uighurs seems to be based on elaborate hacks.
According to Google, potentially thousands of iPhones were infected with powerful surveillance software every week as soon as the devices called five specific, hacked websites.
The software remained on an affected device only until the next reboot, but was able to read chats from various messenger apps, send files such as pictures and emails to the attacker's server, and fetch passwords Transfer locations. According to "Forbes" but not only iPhone, but also Android and Windows users were infected on the same websites.
The at least two-year espionage operation, which exploits unknown exploits, is intended to target the Uighur minority in China, such as TechCrunch and Forbes, citing "persons familiar with the matter", to report. Responsible for the surveillance campaign is therefore "likely" the Chinese government.
Compulsion to spy app
The autonomous province of Xinjiang, which is predominantly inhabited by Uyghurs, has developed into an unparalleled surveillance laboratory. But with modern technology, China's control extends far beyond its borders - demonstrating how the 21st century surveillance state works.
According to the United Nations, China is supposed to hold around one million people in so-called re-education camps in Xinjiang - but even those who are not imprisoned are monitored at all times. "Checkpoints form a network of virtual fences that restrict movement," said Human Rights Watch. "Arbitrary arrests for behavior that does not violate Chinese law, such as buying a new SIM card or growing a beard, are commonplace."
The residents of Xinjiang are required to load a spy app on their cell phones - otherwise imprisoned. For the first time ever, Per WeChat instructed citizens to scan a QR code in 2017 to download the Jinwang app, which automatically scans the phone and examines whether videos, pictures, e-books, and other classified as terrorist or religious classified them are located. The cell phone owners will be asked to delete them. Weibo and WeChat chat histories, IMEI number, SIM card information and Internet usage data are also captured by the app and forwarded to the authorities.
In a central monitoring system all possible online and offline data flow together. Using a monitoring app that Human Rights Watch has analyzed, police officers can access all the data available to a person: "It collects data - from people's blood type and height, to power consumption and package delivery - and warns them Authorities, if they find someone or something suspicious, "says Human Rights Watch. Get an alert on a person, investigate the local officials - and check, for example, whether the target person uses one of the approximately 50 suspicious digital tools such as VPN software, WhatsApp, Viber or Telegram.
A data leak from the Chinese company SenseNets, published by Dutch security researcher Victor Gevers in February, also revealed the extent to which China is monitoring Uighur face-to-face with facial recognition. Face recognition software is used to automatically differentiate Uighurs from Han Chinese - tracking their movement across multiple locations over time, allowing them to understand their daily routines as well as their contacts.
In an online database, Gevers discovered more than 2.5 million records of information such as ID numbers, exhibition and expiration dates, gender, nation, address, birthday, photograph, employer, and GPS coordinates, which revealed what places with CCTV cameras Target persons had happened in the last 24 hours. "This insecure facial recognition solution is designed and operated for one target only," Gevers described his discovery on Twitter. "It's a 'Muslim tracker' funded by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang province to keep track of Uyghur Muslims."
The police create extensive biometric profiles of Uighurs, not only by facial recognition, but also by DNA and blood samples and the recording of voice profiles. In August 2017, Human Rights Watch drew attention to the establishment of a national voice profiling database. Documents analyzed by the human rights organization revealed that the Chinese IT company iFlytek had, among other things, supplied the police in Xinjiang with voice-picking systems. IFlytek technology can also filter out the voices of suspects from telephone conversations or search for conversations by keyword.
Monitoring to foreign countries
Even tourists are being caught by the surveillance machinery. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, people who wanted to travel across the borders between Central Asia and the Chinese West are being provided with spy apps on their smartphones, such as calendar entries, call lists, contacts, text messages, profile pictures and Chinese social log-in data Read Media Accounts. As with the espionage app for Uighurs, the device is also scanned for illegal files.
China collects information about family members from the Uyghurs living in the west - the Uighurs, still living in Xinjiang, are forced to ask relatives at the WeChat interview specifically for information such as ID, addresses, and license plates. In part, Uighurs break contact with emigrants because they are afraid of consequences: "Most Uyghurs in Turkey have been deleted from their families in social media," according to a "Wired" report on Uighurs in exile in Turkey. "And many would not dare to make contact, fearing that Chinese authorities would punish their loved ones."