Devices are briefly removed at the border and install a program that collects data.
Chinese customs officers use a spyware program to check the smartphones of tourists who enter the country through some checkpoints in Xinjiang. The virus scans the device files for extremist content, collects data and reports to the authorities. This was reported by The Guardian , Motherboard and The New York Times .
The spyware application is called BXAQ or Fēng cǎi and scans contacts, messages, call history, calendar entries, as well as a list of applications and aliases in social networks. Then the program sends a report with data to a special server.
Judging by the data of journalists, while the application is installed only at the entrance to China across the border from Kyrgyzstan. Tourists are asked to unlock the device before a temporary seizure. The program on his smartphone found at least one tourist, as well as a reporter for the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
At the disposal of the Motherboard was also an .apk file of the application, which was published in the public domain. As the journalists found out, the application scans the smartphone for the presence of one of 73,000 files with extremist content, for example, ISIS publications, excerpts from the Quran, Dalai Lama lyrics and music from the Japanese metal band Unholy Grave, which has the song Taiwan: Another China (“ Taiwan: Another China ”).
Special application is installed only on Android-smartphones. If the tourist has an iPhone, the customs officers connect it to a special device that scans files and give it back in the same form.
As noted in the Motherboard, the program does not hide itself from the system and acts openly. Apparently, customs officers should remove the application after checking, but at least twice forgot about it.
Journalists have suggested that surveillance is directed against Muslim minorities, including the Turkic people of the Uighurs. They mainly live in the north of China, and the largest group of adherents of Islam is about 11 million people.
Experts believe that the authorities are afraid of losing control over the Muslims, so they are carefully monitored and sought to assimilate into their culture. For example, since 2018, officials every two months live in houses with Muslim families and forcibly teach their language, anthem, and also assess political and religious views.