Chinese border guards put app on tourists phones.
Chinese border guards are secretly installing an app on the phones of tourists who enter their country. The app can copy mails, messages and track the movements of the tourists.
According to the Guardian newspaper, this happens on the border of the Asian giant with the neighboring country of Kyrgyzstan, in a post located in the city of Ikershtam.
“The Chinese government has reduced freedoms in the province of Xinjiang for the local Muslim population by installing face recognition cameras on the streets and in mosques and reportedly forcing residents to download software they are looking for on their phones” , maintains the British media.
Reportedly, tourists are not alerted by border agents about what actions the application performs.
Edin Omanović, of the Privacy International group, described the findings as “highly alarming in a country where downloading the wrong application or the wrong article could take him to a detention camp.”
The software pursues a variety of terms associated with Islamist extremism, including Inspire, the English-language magazine produced by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and several weapons operation manuals.
About 100 million people visit the Xinjiang region every year, according to the Chinese authorities. These include domestic and foreign tourists, and most enter from other parts of the country.
The crossing of Irkeshtam is the westernmost border of China and is used by merchants and tourists, some of them following the historic Silk Road.
There are several stages to cross, and in one of them travelers are required to unlock and deliver their phones and other devices, such as cameras.
Then, the devices are taken to a separate room and returned some time later.
iPhones are connected to a reader that scans them, while Android phones have the application installed to do the same work.
Surveillance in China
The tanks have given way to a more discreet but effective system for the Chinese regime: thousands of cameras. The surveillance arsenal also includes face and voice recognition software.
On the huge esplanade of the heart of Beijing, cameras monitor tourists from all over China and around the world who come to admire the giant portrait of Mao Tse-tung, the founder of the People’s Republic. These cameras (*) attached to the street lights are the visible face of the technological arsenal at the disposal of the Chinese Communist Party to prevent a repetition of the movement of 1989. Indeed, from the north to the south of the country, small police stations intended to to prevent crime … and the slightest disturbance to public order, have mushroomed over the last ten years.
The regime’s obsession with artificial intelligence and facial recognition has added a layer of sophistication to this complex surveillance network. It allows the police to knock on the door of any troublemaker, confided several dissidents. The new state police arsenal includes voice recognition software, to identify people on the phone, and an extensive DNA sample collection program.
Others believe that the omnipresence of the Party in universities and the reduction of the few “spaces of liberty”, such as independent bookstores, complicate the slightest discussion of hypothetical political reforms.
“Thanks to improved surveillance technologies, it would be much more difficult today to attend events like those in Tiananmen in 1989,” observes Patrick Poon of Amnesty International.
There have been punctually in recent years small “spontaneous demonstrations” across the country, launched by union activists, students or families affected by food scandals or defective vaccines. But even this type of sporadic protests is becoming rare, because Beijing is trying to “kill them in the bud” and quickly censors any reference on social networks, says Patrick Poon.
“Every time I leave the city, I have to inform the police,” says Yi Wenlong, a businessman from Shanxi Province, whose daughter suffers from epilepsy after a vaccine adulterated. “If we can not even talk about concrete problems like vaccines, how can we carry banners calling for greater change? He says.
Since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, Beijing has sharply reduced the area of civil liberties, targeting lawyers, dissidents and even “Marxist” students who defend workers’ rights.
The regime’s censors have tightened their control of social networks, monitoring the exchanges of millions of people and blocking all politically sensitive content – including the 1989 crackdown. As the sensitive date of June 4th approaches, Wikipedia encyclopedia has been blocked in all languages!
With the phenomenal enrichment of the country and propaganda of every moment, the regime has mostly managed to eradicate the very desire to challenge, is saddened Li Datong, former editor of the Peking Youth Daily, placed under surveillance. last year after criticizing Xi Jinping.
“The current generation is selfish because it has been lulled by the enrichment of China,” he said. “We can not compare it to students of the 80s who had ideals.
“China had in 2016 about 176 million surveillance cameras (against 50 million in the United States). By 2022, this figure should reach 2.76 billion cameras, in a country of 1.4 billion people or two per person.
Taking Over the Internet
Since taking office in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping intends to take over the Internet with an iron fist. Unlike his predecessor Hu Jintao, who “invaded” the Web in the manner of a go player, Xi Jinping intends to install a control totalizing, visible and legitimized by an ideology inherited from Maoist thought. To achieve this, China is investing in Big Data and Artificial Intelligence, making omni-surveillance a reality worthy of certain episodes of the Anglo-Saxon sci-fi series Black Mirror.
This opening of Chinese Internet users to the world through the introduction of the Internet in the country could have potentially become a weapon of counter-power for the democratization of China, but ultimately, its leadership by the power in place has decided to restrict each year a little more the spaces of freedom.
Big data and artificial intelligence, the new armed arms of omni-control
After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, Chinese President Deng Xiaoping embarked on the path of reform in 1978 to get the country out of the slump and allow it to enter a new era, that of modernization, both economic than technological. In 1992, this shift from the communist regime to a “Chinese-style market socialism” caused the country to take a 180-degree turn, both ideologically and politically, to bring it into a capitalist system. Western-based, based primarily on foreign direct investment (FDI) and the import of its technologies. As such, the development of the Chinese Internet since 1994 has undeniably been part of the country’s global integration process.
The development of the Chinese Internet since 1994 has undeniably been part of the country’s global integration process.
Since the 2000s, the Chinese Internet knew a spectacular growth, as in number of Internet users as in infrastructures. President Hu Jintao encouraged to this end the spread of the Internet to the whole territory according to the new “Plan of Strategy for the development of computerization 2006-2020” of the Council of the Affairs of the State. Today, the number of Internet users in China is 802 million users, the world’s largest Internet population, even though this figure represents only 57% of the penetration rate of its total population.
To channel this unprecedented opening of society to the online public space, surveillance and censorship have become, from the beginning of the establishment of the Internet in China, the essential components of the control of the Web.
To channel this unprecedented opening of society to the online public space, surveillance and censorship have become, from the beginning of the establishment of the Internet in China, the essential components of the control of the Web – a condition sine qua non to its introduction in the country.
For the Chinese government, the Internet thus appears first and foremost as an essential technological aid for the rationalization of public action, making it possible to resolve the challenges posed by “governance”, in the sense of Michel Foucault.
In 2000, the Ministry of Public Security set up a large network surveillance project called the Golden Shield (jin dun ??). This program is built around a global digital surveillance network, developed nationwide with the help of the Canadian company Nortel Networks, the Ministry of Public Security (MSP) set up a large-scale network monitoring project in 2000 called the Golden Shield.
The purpose of this program is to centralize all available electronic resources to “defend the interest of the citizen and improve the resolution rate of criminal cases”. It is built around a nationwide, comprehensive digital surveillance network that connects local, regional and national police services within a closed intranet.
This remote monitoring system operates from databases, with immediate access to each citizen’s identification records and links to camera networks with facial recognition software. In 2009, the MSP reported having installed more than 2.75 million cameras and 268,000 alarm and surveillance systems in public places, mainly in urban areas. Eleven years later, this number would reach more than 170 million interconnected smart cameras, making the facial video recognition market a growing sector (128 million euros in 2016).
The media coverage of the arrests of criminals carried out thanks to high-tech video surveillance serves the government’s security communication policy, justifying the presence of nearly a million surveillance cameras on the territory. This displayed omniscience makes it possible to reinforce the panoptic effect described by Bentham (4), where each individual internalizes the surveillance of which he is potentially subject to self-control.
The surveillance of individuals in real life by the Golden Shield is doubled by monitoring their actions on the Web, especially in the public space (forums, blogs, social networks). This is achieved through both automated and human control, where popular vigilance and denunciation are considered as citizen acts complementary to official surveillance.
The surveillance of individuals in real life by the Golden Shield is doubled by a monitoring of their actions on the Web
From the technical point of view, a first level of blocking and filtering is performed upstream from software placed at the level of Internet backbones and internet service providers (ISPs). What the media generally call China’s Great Wall of Electronics is nothing more than a big firewall, a sort of giant Internet filter consisting of internal and external routers, as well as independent DNS (Domain Main System). The filtering is mainly based on the IP address. The keywords found in the URL link or contained in the HTML code are then either redirected by the DNS servers to other websites approved by the authorities, or blocked. This kind of blacklist is regularly updated according to current events or controversies.
In order to extend the scope of censorship and surveillance, the regime has also decentralized the criminal responsibility of the information disseminated on the Web to all private actors of the Net, who mobilize their employees and their equipment at the service of the demands of power. : ISPs, media content providers, search engines, website and forum administrators, bloggging hosting sites and microblogging, all players are concerned, including foreign companies.
For fear of being sanctioned, it should be noted that these private companies add a second level of censorship, generally creating in their turn their own blacklist of words or forbidden words. In August 2004, a hacker had discovered one of them. they had nearly 1,000 “sensitive” terms in both English and Chinese on Tencent’s popular QQ instant messaging server. The censored terms mainly concerned dissident organizations (Falun Gong), protest movements or independence movements (Taiwan, Tibet), foreign media (BBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal), or word games intended to criticize words covered the policy of Chinese leaders (the name of former Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (???) had thus been transformed: the character wen (“sweet”) had been replaced by another wen “meaning” plague “).
Blockages linked to censorship are either intermittent or permanent for dissident or banned sites in China such as Facebook or Twitter, but seem more frequent and extended to more sites at certain times considered particularly sensitive from the point of view of national security: June 4, the anniversary of the suppression of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement in 1989, in the run-up to the annual meetings of the National People’s Congress or the visit of foreign heads of state.
In addition, the technical analysis of Olivier Vérot, director of an SEO agency of French sites on the Chinese Web, has revealed some arcane SEO sites by the search engine Baidu. Unlike Google, which references sites with algorithms evaluating their popularity and e-reputation, Baidu would use its staff to audit each site when they first register.
These sites, if they wish to be referenced on the first page of the search engine would have no alternative but to comply with these rules for propagandist purposes, which force them to put online from their homepage many links referring to official news sites like Xinhua (the China News News Agency).