"Social media, calls, messages all under surveillance": Mobile devices in China lead to death of privacy

by Daniel Payne · Dec 2nd, 2019 3:51 pm
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Last Updated Dec 2nd, 2019 at 5:19 pm

The Chinese government has long been known for its heavy-handed surveillance tactics against ordinary citizens, but new reports have revealed that the rise of mobile devices has expanded already wide-ranging policy.

A report from the human rights magazine Bitter Winter reveals the staggering levels of state surveillance that now exist in the mobile age. One former employee of the state-owned China Mobile Limited says that company "censors" monitor users' phone calls and data streams in order to spot so-called "harmful" transmissions. The system uses algorithms to spot potentially controversial content and assign human employees to review it.

"There is simply no privacy in China. Social media, calls, and messages on mobile phones are all under surveillance," the employee told Bitter Winter. "If one says anything deemed unfavorable to the CCP, he or she will be punished. Every person is monitored and controlled under the pretext ‘to crack down on harassment.'"

The source said he was often tasked with monitoring "more than ten thousand pieces of information" every single month. Some users could get their phone numbers deactivated if they had made certain remarks about state leaders or state corporations, while others could face more serious consequences.