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Chinese border agents have been installing spyware on phones from tourists who enter the country through certain crossings in the Xinjiang region, an area where China is known to be conducting intensive surveillance of the largely Muslim ethnic minority groups who live there. The spyware was reported today by a group of publications, includingTheGuardian,Motherboard,The New York Times, and more.

Border agents in the region have been requiring tourists to hand over their phones and passcodes before entering, according to the reports. The agents will then disappear with the phones in order to snoop through them. For iPhones, that reportedly includes plugging them into a machine that scans through the phone’s contents. For Android phones, it goes further, with border agents installing a spyware app that scans the phone and collects data.

the Xinjiang region, which is home to a number of ethnic minorities, including the Uighurs, a largely Muslim group of about 8 million people. It’s a resource-rich region, and China has feared losing control over it. It’s led to the use of facial recognition systems, apps that facilitate surveillance, and violent internment camps.

Chinese authorities did not respond to the reporting publications’ requests for comment.


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