It has been reported that China’s border guards are installing surveillance apps on the phones of some visitors as part of the government’s ever-increasing mass surveillance regime in the Xinjiang province.
According to an investigation by the Guardian, The New York Times, and Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung, the “secret” app allows for personal information to be downloaded. The app was discovered to be installed on the phones of visitors entering the country from Kyrgyzstan.
The report says people using the remote Irkeshtam border crossing into the country have routinely had their phones screened by guards. The Irkeshtam crossing is China’s most westerly border and is used by traders and tourists, some following the historic Silk Road.
The publication said specifically that the app extracts emails, text messages, contact information, as well as handset information. Visitors have not been informed this is happening.