China uses anti-fraud app to monitor access to overseas financial news sites

China uses anti-fraud app to monitor access to overseas financial news sites

According to an individual summoned by authorities, Chinese police are using a new fraud prevention app installed on more than 200 million mobile phones to identify and question people who have browsed foreign financial news sites. ..

The latest information on business and finance in China.

The app was released in March by the Ministry of Public Security’s National Fraud Prevention Center to block suspicious calls and report malware. Police said they needed to combat the surge in fraud often carried out by foreign businesses controlled by Chinese and Taiwanese.

The ministry recommended downloading the app, but many local governments have mandated the app for employees, students, tenants, and other individuals with whom they work.

A Shanghai-based user told the Financial Times that he was contacted by police after accessing a US financial news service. I was also asked if I contacted overseas and regularly visited overseas websites.

Users who asked not to reveal their identities said police seemed to be deeply worried about foreign fraud. “But the questions they raised about whether I contacted foreigners made me feel like they didn’t want me to visit foreign websites,” he added. “I deleted the app after the meeting.”

A second user in eastern Shandong said police called him for four consecutive days after showing that the app had visited “very dangerous” foreign information providers, including Bloomberg.

“They said they would remove Bloomberg’s” dangerous “label, but nothing happened,” the user said. “The authorities also do not disclose how to determine if a foreign website is related to fraud.”

The app has also generated thousands of privacy-related complaints online from people who said they had to download to rent an apartment or enroll their child in school. Over a dozen individuals told FT that they were uncomfortable with giving the app 29 permissions to install on the phone, including call logs, text messages, and live monitoring of conversations.

“I’m not going to give authorities access to every aspect of my life to fend off fraud,” said a Shanghai-based marketing manager who ignored multiple requests to install the app. .. Parents across the country have said they need to download the app before enrolling their children in school. In Shenzhen, some tenants need to install it before signing the lease agreement.

“I’ve never seen government power abused to promote an unpopular app,” said a salaryman in eastern Anhui who had to download the app before applying for identification. Told. “This is a monitoring app that keeps track of everything on your phone,” added a salaryman who removed the app hours after being instructed to install it by the local government. “No matter how good the intention is, I don’t need it.”

According to official data, China arrested 361,000 people for wired or online fraud last year, compared to 73,000 in 2018. In April, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Public Security, Li Bei, called such fraud the “fastest growing criminal activity” in the country. .. This app offers dozens of courses on fraud prevention. At a press conference in June, high-ranking public security official Jiang Guoli said, “We have played an important role in the fight against fraud.” Jiang added that he issued 23 million alert messages within the first three months of the app’s release.

The Ministry of Public Security and the National Fraud Prevention Center did not respond to requests for comment. Kalman Lucero, a Yale Law School fellow, said the app could be abused by the government. “You can certainly use it to develop valuable information about who you are and what you are doing, without having to listen to the phone or read the exact content of your text message,” he says. I did.

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