On Monday, Trump signed a $716 billion defense bill named after Senator John McCain that included “watered down sanctions” on Chinese phone company ZTE. The compromise bill removed a provision that would undo a $1 billion penalty to resume business with US suppliers. A few days after ZTE was shut down on May 9 because of national security fears, Trump suddenly Tweeted he would save the company, leading many to question why. The phones could be used to spy and steal information from their users, after all.
That question becomes even more serious when we learn about China’s black tech “surveillance state.” Most of the police across China now use hand-held devices that can access personal information on any person’s cell phone in seconds.
So even if the phone is considered secure, it won’t matter anyway. Authorities can easily get all the information they want, and these devices exist in America right now.
Reuters reported on the quiet spread of the data-extraction devices across China, and the millions of dollars worth of investments in them by the Chinese government.
The tools are used in efforts to clamp down on dissent in the country. Sounds right up Trump’s alley, right?
“The scanners are hand-held or desktop devices that can break into smartphones and extract and analyze contact lists, photos, videos, social media posts and email.”
One of the sales representatives for the XDH-5200A scanner used by police claims that there are only two provinces that currently don’t use the scanners.
“Almost every police station will have the equipment.”
The police stations across China can reportedly access the data hacked from citizen’s phones via a centralized repository.
Police have specifically asked for tools to pull data from the Chinese version of phone user’s Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Google Chrome browser.
An engineer at a Beijing-based tech firm said:
“The smartphone has become the most important source of evidence,” said Wu Wangwie. Police will always use it “if the case needs it”.
The scanners are currently in use in the United States as well.
“These sorts of scanners are used in countries like the United States but they remain contentious and security forces need to go through a lengthy legal process to be able to forcibly break into a suspect’s phone.”
The extraction devices sound like some dark Sci-Fi movie story, but they are real — and they promise to crack into any brand of phone, be it ZTE or iPhone.
So next time Trump decides to Tweet about ZTE, that may actually be the least of our concerns in the black tech world growing ever blacker in China, and possibly just beginning to come to a surveillance state near you.
See more about how easy it is for hackers to get access to your phone with tips from Tech Insider below:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube