China Snares Tourists Phones In Surveillance Dragnet By Adding Secret

Raymond Zhong writing for The New York Times

The app’s simple design makes the inspection process easy for border officers to carry out. After Fengcai is installed on a phone, the researchers found, it gathers all stored text messages, call records, contacts and calendar entries, as well as information about the device itself. The app also checks the files on the phone against the list of more than 73,000 items.

China’s surveillance spreading to non-Chinese citizens is concerning. How long until they start using their position as the world’s factory to spy on consumers of those products around the world.

This quote from the Motherboard article - China Is Forcing Tourists to Install Text-Stealing Malware at its Border on this same subject really stuck out to me:

“There is an increasing trend around the world to treat borders as law-free zones where authorities have the right to carry out whatever outrageous form of surveillance they want,” Edin Omanovic, state surveillance program lead at Privacy International, told Vice. “But they’re not: the whole point of basic rights is that you’re entitled to them wherever you are. Western liberal democracies intent on implementing increasingly similar surveillance regimes at the border should look to what China is doing here and consider if this is really the model of security they want to be pursuing.”