Chinese officials in the province of Xinjiang are forcing locals of the Uyghur Muslim minority to install an application on their smartphones that allows the government to scan their devices for “terrorist propaganda”.
This spyware program called Jingwang (Citizen Safety) creates MD5 hashes for the phone’s files and matches them against a database of known extremist content.
The app also creates copies of the user’s WeChat and Weibo chat databases and uploads them to a special government server, along with the user’s IMEI, IMSI, and WiFi credentials.
At the start of this month, Xinjiang authorities started sending WeChat messages in Uyghur and Chinese language to locals, asking them to install the app or get arrested for up to 10 days.
Police have also stopped people on the street to check if they installed this security app. Several citizens were arrested for refusing to install it.
— 即时中国大陆映像✊✊✊ (@o66071443) 18 июля 2017 г.
Last year Xinjiang authorities have started to cut phone services to members of the Uyghur population who used foreign messaging apps such as WhatsApp or Telegram, or if they used VPN services.