China using mobile app for 'illegal mass surveillance of Muslims'

By agency reporter
May 4, 2019

Chinese authorities are using a mobile app to carry out illegal mass surveillance and arbitrary detention of Muslims in China’s western Xinjiang region, says Human Rights Watch.

The Human Rights Watch report, China’s Algorithms of Repression: Reverse Engineering a Xinjiang Police Mass Surveillance App, presents new evidence about the surveillance state in Xinjiang, where the government has subjected 13 million Turkic Muslims to heightened repression as part of its 'Strike Hard Campaign against Violent Terrorism'. Between January 2018 and February 2019, Human Rights Watch was able to reverse engineer the mobile app that officials use to connect to the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP), the Xinjiang policing programme that aggregates data about people, and flags those deemed potentially threatening. By examining the design of the app, which at the time was publicly available, Human Rights Watch revealed specifically the kinds of behaviours and people this mass surveillance system targets.

“Our research shows, for the first time, that Xinjiang police are using illegally gathered information about people’s completely lawful behaviour – and using it against them”, said Maya Wang, senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Chinese government is monitoring every aspect of people’s lives in Xinjiang, picking out those it mistrusts, and subjecting them to extra scrutiny.”

Human Rights Watch published screenshots from the IJOP app, in the original Chinese and translated into English.

* Read China’s Algorithms of Repression here

* Human Rights Watch https://www.hrw.org/

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