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Chinese border guards are putting a surveillance app on tourists’ phones

The spyware gathers everything from text messages to contacts, and looks for content China considers threatening.

The news: An investigation by several publications has uncovered a systematic effort by China to spy on devices carried into Xinjiang. It’s part of a massive surveillance operation in China’s northwest, which is home to a Chinese Muslim population known as Uighurs.

The spyware: Anyone crossing the land border from central Asia into Xinjiang is being asked to hand over their phones. Border guards then load an app known as Fengcai onto them. This sucks up calendar entries, text messages, phone contacts, other apps on the device, and call logs, all of which are then sent to a remote server. The phone’s content is then checked against a register of over 73,000 items, including terrorist materials, Arabic language books, recordings of the Quran, and even a song by a Japanese band called Unholy Grace.

Big Chinese Brother: This isn’t the first time that China has force-fed apps to people. But it shows the extent to which the country is willing to go to create a massive surveillance state. 

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