Chinese Police Scan, Store Data From Citizens’ Smartphones

Chinese police are regularly using handheld devices to scan the contents of people’s smartphones, according to recent media reports.

Government procurement documents cited by Reuters showed that police stations in almost every Chinese province have been acquiring special data-extraction devices for smartphones since the beginning of 2016.

The scanners, generally hand-held or desktop devices that can break into smartphones and extract and analyze contact lists, photos, videos, social media posts and email, appear to have been rolled out in the northwestern region of Xinjiang initially, Reuters said.

Sources in the region confirmed their use in recent interviews with RFA.

“I ran into a police patrol when I went to fill up at a gas station, who told me to take out my smartphone for checking,” a resident of the regional capital Urumqi surnamed Hao told RFA.


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