INDICATIONS have emerged that the Chinese government is collecting data on its citizens to an extent where their movements can even be tracked in real-time using their mobile devices.
This was disclosed by a group of researchers from Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs who specialize in studying the ways in which information technology affects both personal and human rights worldwide.
The Chinese government has been known for some time for employing a number of invasive tactics to be fully aware of the lives of its citizens.
Citizen Lab affirmed that the apps and services designed and used by the Chinese government to monitor its populace are run by the private sector.
It was indicated that the discovery was made when the researchers began exploring Tencent’s popular chat app WeChat that is installed on the devices of almost every Chinese citizen with 800 million active users each month.
The findings from Citizen Lab found that not only does the app help the government censor chats between users but that it is also being used as a state surveillance tool. WeChat’s restrictions even remain active for Chinese students studying abroad.
Further insight on the team’s discovery revealed that: “What the government has managed to do is download the controls to the private sector, to make it incumbent upon them to police their own networks.”
A study conducted on the project showed that large amounts of personal data on nearly anyone could be purchased online for a little over a hundred US dollars. The newspaper also found another service that offered the ability to track users in real-time via their mobile devices.
Users traveling to China anytime soon should be extra cautious as to their activities online and should think twice before installing WeChat during their stay.