China’s Algorithms of Repression – Reverse Engineering a Xinjiang Police Mass Surveillance App
by Human Rights Watch
Posted May 28, 2019
This report provides a detailed description and analysis of a mobile app that police and other officials use to communicate with the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP, 一体化联合作战平台), one of the main systems Chinese authorities use for mass surveillance in Xinjiang. Human Rights Watch first reported on the IJOP in February 2018, noting the policing program aggregates data about people and flags to officials those it deems potentially threatening; some of those targeted are detained and sent to political education camps and other facilities. But by “reverse engineering” this mobile app, we now know specifically the kinds of behaviors and people this mass surveillance system targets.
The CCP has long embraced mass surveillance. Since 1949, the state and the Party have relied on information gathering and social management tools, such as “danwei” work units, the “hukou” residency registration system, and “dang’an” secret political files, to monitor people and maintain tight social control. Government agencies regularly collect a wide range of personal information about people, ranging from their political views to information about women’s use of birth control, and link it to their national identification card number, without people having the ability to challenge such collection.
Xinjiang authorities have collected biometrics, including DNA samples, fingerprints, iris scans, and blood types of all residents in the region between the ages of 12 and 65. Additionally, authorities have required residents to give voice samples when they apply for passports. All of this data is being entered into centralized, searchable databases. The collection of these biometrics is part of the government’s drive to form a “multi-modal” biometric portrait of individuals and to gather ever more data about its citizens. All of this data can be linked in police databases to the person’s identification number, which in turn is linked to a person’s other biometric and personal information on file, such as the kind of data described in this report. The use of mass surveillance extends beyond Xinjiang and into the Turkic Muslim diaspora as authorities pressure them to provide detailed information about themselves, including their address, phone number, and school or workplace. More…
The level of government surveillance of citizens is growing in all nations of the world, not just happening in China.
When will the citizens rise up against government surveillance in their private lives? With the level of surveillance already in place in the US and other western nations, how long before the level of surveillance in China reaches our shores?