China Intercepts WeChat Texts From U.S. And Abroad, Researcher Says

NPR.org | 8/29/2019 | Staff
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Owned by Tencent, one of China's biggest companies, the WeChat app has more than 1 billion monthly users in China, and now serves users outside the country, too.

The popular Chinese messaging app WeChat is Zhou Fengsuo's most reliable communication link to China.

Decades - Zhou - Rights - Activist - University

That's because he hasn't been back in over two decades. Zhou, a human rights activist, had been a university student in 1989, when the pro-democracy protests broke out in Beijing's Tiananmen Square. After a year in jail and another in political reeducation, he moved to the United States in 1995.

But WeChat often malfunctions. Zhou began noticing in January that his chat groups could not read his messages. "I realized this because I was expecting some feedback [on a post] but there was no feedback," Zhou tells NPR at from his home in New Jersey.

American - Human - Rights - Zhou - Fengsuo

Chinese American human rights activist Zhou Fengsuo says he will continue using WeChat in spite of its vulnerabilities. "I have to use it to communicate. I just have to know what's going on" in China, he says.

Chinese cyberspace is one of the most surveilled and censored in the world. That includes WeChat. Owned by Tencent, one of China's biggest companies, the chat-meets-payment app has more than 1 billion monthly users in China and now serves users outside the country, too, although it does not divulge how many. Researchers say its use abroad has extended the global reach of China's surveillance and censorship methods.

Chinese - Technology - Companies - Footprint - China

As Chinese technology companies expand their footprint outside China, they are also sweeping up vast amounts of data from foreign users. Now, analysts say they know where the missing messages are: Every day, millions of WeChat conversations held inside and outside China are flagged, collected and stored in a database connected to public security agencies in China, according to a Dutch Internet researcher.

"The intention...
(Excerpt) Read more at: NPR.org
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