Chinese Newspaper And Citizens Find Spyware Purchase Orders On Dozens Of Police And Local Government Web Sites

from the investigating-the-investigators dept

It is hardly news that the Chinese authorities spy on their citizens, but a story in Global Voices adds a couple of fascinating twists to the story. The Beijing Times newspaper discovered that a district police department's Web site had a purchase order for surveillance software:

Beijing Times found the purchase order on the website of the Wenzhou district police department, took a screen capture of the order, and posted it on social media with a brief explanation of its origins. The purchase order includes two items: software for injecting trojans onto mobile phones, and a trojan for spying on mobile phone conversations, text messages, and image messages on Android and for jail breaking an iPhone. The first item cost RMB 100,000 yuan (approximately US $16,000) and the second item costed RMB 4,900 yuan (approximately US $800).
The fact that the purchase order for such a sensitive item was uploaded to the police site seems odd -- perhaps surveillance software is now so run-of-the-mill and pervasive that the police no longer regard its use as controversial. The other interesting aspect of this story is that Beijing Times was digging around on the police Web site in the first place, and that having found something rather interesting, decided to publish it, rather than discreetly forget about it. Even better, this rather bold action inspired others to get digging for similar purchase orders. Remarkably, they found some, including this:
a software tool that collects messages from overseas social media including Twitter, Facebook and Google plus. Authorities in Taian city purchased data collection software and content posting software intended to help “counter public opinion” on nine major social media platforms, both in China and overseas.
Again, no real surprises there, but it's good to have more detailed information about who's using which surveillance tool, and for what purpose.

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Filed Under: china, government, police, spyware


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  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 2:26am

    Cue the Britishly wrathful reaction from the West: "They are collecting international info! We must stop them!" while shouting for security backdoors on the other side.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 2:41am

    You can call it government waste at those prices, too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 2:59am

    Re:

    Publicly perhaps, though I imagine privately they'd be asking 'So uhh, where'd you buy these programs from again? I've got a 'friend' that might be interested.'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    Ninja (profile), 30 Jan 2015 @ 3:45am

    Re: Re:

    Nailed it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Cybervn, 30 Jan 2015 @ 6:47am

    Houston Custom Software

    Are you looking for 1 custom software for your jobs ?
    Many prepackaged business softwares are serviced for a wide choice of customers. However, every business are distinct, Within reason a lot of such businesses wind up hiring a custom software development  from CyberVn for their business requirement

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    SPAM, 30 Jan 2015 @ 7:21am

    Re: Houston Custom Software

    🔝 SPAM 🔝

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anon, 30 Jan 2015 @ 7:39am

    What's the surprise?

    They have someone whose job is to show "government transparency" just like here in the west. that person dutifully uploads all PO's to the web as per their instructions. The maroon who orders tech software, is doing the same job they learned 20 years ago when all this was secret, so forgot that it would end up online. After this, they'll figure out some way to flag what should not be posted. Kafka would be proud.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Jan 2015 @ 8:08am

    Re: What's the surprise?

    That, or this is a "honey pot".

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Will, 30 Jan 2015 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: What's the surprise?

    We've been honey dicked!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Will, 30 Jan 2015 @ 11:02am

    Re: Re: What's the surprise?

    We've been honey dicked!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    chillinfart, 1 Feb 2015 @ 8:56am

    Not bad

    In the good hand, that has a name: transparency.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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