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Communications of the ACM

ACM TechNews

App Helps You Learn About China, While China Learns All About You


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The smartphone app Xuexi Qiangguo became the most downloaded app in China following its January debut.

China is using a widely downloaded mobile app and a translation service to amass billions of pieces of data from inside its borders and around the world.

Credit: Jason Lee/Reuters

Researchers in Germany and Australia have determined that China is using a widely downloaded mobile app and translation service to siphon billions of pieces of information on users.

German cybersecurity firm Cure53 said the propaganda app Xuexi Qiangguo has accumulated over 100 million registered users, providing a potential backdoor for Beijing to log users' locations, calls, and contact lists.

The Open Technology Fund said the app's code facilitates "superuser" access to smartphones, which can modify files, install keystroke-logging software, and use easily crack encryption software to expose personal data.

Meanwhile, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said Chinese state-owned company Global Tone Communications Technology (GTCOM) can mine about 5 trillion words in 65 different languages daily, from sources including social and traditional media, to produce intelligence data for China's national security agencies.

Australian author Samantha Hoffman warned this research emphasizes how otherwise harmless devices and services can be harnessed to advance China's "tech-enhanced authoritarianism."

From The Wall Street Journal
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Abstracts Copyright © 2019 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


 

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