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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Dalai Lama"

China Snares Tourists’ Phones in Surveillance Dragnet by Adding Secret App

BEIJING — China has turned its western region of Xinjiang into a police state with few modern parallels, employing a combination of high-tech surveillance and enormous manpower to monitor and subdue the area’s predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities.

Now, the digital dragnet is expanding beyond Xinjiang’s residents, ensnaring tourists, traders and other visitors — and digging deep into their smartphones.

A team of journalists from The New York Times and other publications examined a policing app used in the region, getting a rare look inside the intrusive technologies that China is deploying in the name of quelling Islamic radicalism and strengthening Communist Party rule in its Far West. The use of the app has not been previously reported.

China’s border authorities routinely install the app on smartphones belonging to travelers who enter Xinjiang by land from Central Asia, according to several people interviewed by the journalists who crossed the border recently and requested anonymity to avoid government retaliation. Chinese officials also installed the app on the phone of one of the journalists during a recent border crossing. Visitors were required to turn over their devices to be allowed into Xinjiang.

The app gathers personal data from phones, including text messages and contacts. It also checks whether devices are carrying pictures, videos, documents and audio files that match any of more than 73,000 items included on a list stored within the app’s code.

Those items include Islamic State publications, recordings of jihadi anthems and images of executions. But they also include material without any connection to Islamic terrorism, an indication of China’s heavy-handed approach to stopping extremist violence. There are scanned pages from an Arabic dictionary, recorded recitations of Quran verses, a photo of the Dalai Lama and even a song by a Japanese band of the earsplitting heavy-metal style known as grindcore.

“The Chinese government, both in law and practice, often conflates peaceful religious activities with terrorism,” Maya Wang, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch, said. “You can see in Xinjiang, privacy is a gateway right: Once you lose your right to privacy, you’re going to be afraid of practicing your religion, speaking what’s on your mind or even thinking your thoughts.”

The United States has condemned Beijing for the crackdown in Xinjiang, which Chinese officials defend as a nonlethal way of fighting terrorism. The region is home to many of the country’s Uighurs, a Turkic ethnic group, and the Chinese government has blamed Islamic extremism and Uighur separatism for deadly attacks on Chinese targets.

A book about Syria’s civil war is one of the files that the Fengcai app checks a phone’s contest against.CreditOxford University Press The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, whom China considers a dangerous separatist.CreditSanjay Baid/EPA, via Shutterstock

With the scanning of phones at the border, the Chinese government is applying similarly invasive monitoring techniques to people who do not even live in Xinjiang or China. Beijing has said that terrorist groups use Central Asian countries as staging grounds for attacks in China.

Three people who crossed the Xinjiang land border from Kyrgyzstan in the past year said that as part of a lengthy inspection, Chinese border officials had demanded that visitors unlock and hand over their handsets and computers. On Android devices, officers installed an app called Fengcai (pronounced “FUNG-tsai”), a name that evokes bees collecting pollen.

A copy of Fengcai was examined by journalists from The New York Times; the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung; the German broadcaster NDR; The Guardian; and Motherboard, the Vice Media technology site.

One of the journalists undertook the border crossing in recent months. Holders of Chinese passports, including members of the majority Han ethnic group, had their phones checked as well, the journalist said.

Apple devices were not spared scrutiny. Visitors’ iPhones were unlocked and connected via a USB cable to a hand-held device, the journalist said. What the device did could not be determined.

The journalists also asked researchers at the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany and the Open Technology Fund, an initiative funded by the United States government under Radio Free Asia, to analyze the code of the Android app, Fengcai. The Open Technology Fund then requested and funded an assessment of the app by Cure53, a cybersecurity company in Berlin.

The app’s simple design makes the inspection process easy for border officers to carry out. After Fengcai is installed on a phone, the researchers found, it gathers all stored text messages, call records, contacts and calendar entries, as well as information about the device itself. The app also checks the files on the phone against the list of more than 73,000 items.

This list contains only the size of each file and a code that serves as a unique signature. It does not include the files’ names or other information that would indicate what they are.

But at the journalists’ request, researchers at the Citizen Lab, an internet watchdog group based at the University of Toronto, obtained information about roughly 1,400 of the files by comparing their signatures with ones stored by VirusTotal, a malware-scanning service owned by the Google sibling company Chronicle. Additional files were identified by Vinny Troia, the founder of the cybersecurity firm NightLion Security, and York Yannikos of the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology in Darmstadt, Germany.

Most of the files that the journalists could identify were related to Islamic terrorism: Islamic State recruitment materials in several languages, books written by jihadi figures, information about how to derail trains and build homemade weapons.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 00chinaapp-02-articleLarge China Snares Tourists’ Phones in Surveillance Dragnet by Adding Secret App Xinjiang (China) Uighurs (Chinese Ethnic Group) Surveillance of Citizens by Government Politics and Government Mobile Applications Lister, Charles R Dalai Lama Computers and the Internet China

Vehicles belonging to Uighur drivers being inspected at a police checkpoint in the Xinjiang region.CreditAndy Wong/Associated Press

Many of the files were more benign. There were audio recordings of Quran verses recited by well-known clerics, the sort of material that many practicing Muslims might have on their phones. There were books about Arabic language and grammar, and a copy of “The Syrian Jihad,” a book about the country’s civil war by the researcher Charles R. Lister.

Mr. Lister said he did not know why the Chinese authorities might consider him or his book suspicious. He speculated that it might only be because the word “jihad” was in the title.

Other files the app scans for have no link to Islam or Islamic extremism. There are writings by the Dalai Lama, whom China considers a dangerous separatist, and a photograph of him. There is a summary of “The 33 Strategies of War,” a book by the author Robert Greene on applying strategic thinking to everyday life.

“It’s a bit of a mystery to me,” Mr. Greene said, when told that his book had been flagged.

There is also, puzzlingly, an audio file of a metal song: “Cause and Effect,” by the Japanese band Unholy Grave. The reason for the song’s inclusion was not clear, and an email sent to an address on Unholy Grave’s website was not answered.

After Fengcai scans a phone, the app generates a report containing all contacts, text messages and call records, as well as lists of calendar entries and of other apps installed on the device. It sends this information to a server.

Two of the people who recently crossed the Xinjiang border said that before officials returned phones to their owners, they took photos of each owner’s passport next to his or her device, making sure that the app was visible on the screen.

This suggests that the authorities have been told to be thorough in scanning visitors’ phones, although it was not clear how they were using the information they acquired as a result. It also could not be determined whether anyone had been detained or monitored because of information generated by the app. If Fengcai remains on a person’s phone after it is installed, it does not continue scanning the device in the background, the app’s code indicates.

Officials in Xinjiang are now gathering oceans of personal information, including DNA and data about people’s movements. It would not be surprising for the Chinese authorities to want this harvesting of data to begin at the region’s borders.

China’s Ministry of Public Security and the Xinjiang regional government did not respond to faxed requests for comment.

Names that appear in Fengcai’s source code suggest that the app was made by a unit of FiberHome, a producer of optical cable and telecom equipment that is partly owned by the Chinese state. The unit, Nanjing FiberHome StarrySky Communication Development Company, says on its website that it offers products to help the police collect and analyze data, and that it has signed agreements with security authorities across China.

FiberHome and StarrySky did not respond to requests for comment.

According to StarrySky’s website, the company offers “cellphone forensic equipment,” which it says can extract, analyze and recover data from mobile phones.

On another page, StarrySky says the purpose of its “smart policing” products is “to let there be not a bad guy in the world who is hard to catch.”

Karam Shoumali contributed reporting from Berlin.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Dalai Lama: Sure, a female successor would be okay — if she’s hot

Westlake Legal Group dl Dalai Lama: Sure, a female successor would be okay — if she’s hot woman Vaidyanathan The Blog successor Muslims Europe Dalai Lama attractive

To cleanse the palate. Yesterday’s CW: The Dalai Lama is the world’s most enlightened man.

Today’s CW: The Dalai Lama must be deplatformed.

Or at least stripped of his Nobel Prize.

This is unexpected:

I like that he just owns it, almost cheerily, even. It’s vaguely Trumpy in its unapologetic political correctness.

In fact, upon further review, this guy sounds very Trumpy:

The 83-year-old said: ‘European countries should take these refugees and give them education and training, and the aim is – return to their own land with certain skills.’…

When asked what should happen to those who want to stay in their adopted countries, he replied: ‘A limited number is OK. But the whole of Europe [will] eventually become Muslim country – impossible. Or African country, also impossible.’…

He added: ‘They themselves, I think [are] better in their own land. Better [to] keep Europe for Europeans.’

So there’s the low-key biggest news of the week. At some point when the world wasn’t looking, the Dalai Lama got red-pilled.

Here’s a few more bits from the same interview, including some of the comments about refugees. I’m tempted to wonder if Trump will be reincarnated as his successor, but the subject of Trump is broached here and, well, it doesn’t go well.

The post Dalai Lama: Sure, a female successor would be okay — if she’s hot appeared first on Hot Air.

Westlake Legal Group dl-300x159 Dalai Lama: Sure, a female successor would be okay — if she’s hot woman Vaidyanathan The Blog successor Muslims Europe Dalai Lama attractive  Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Daniel Hannan: Better to select the Tory leader like the Dalai Lama than elect him by this preposterous method

Daniel Hannan is an MEP for South-East England, and a journalist, author and broadcaster. His most recent book is What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit.

Here is how the Doge of Venice was elected. Thirty names were chosen at random from the eligible electorate. These were reduced by lot to nine, who would nominate 40, from whom a blind draw would choose 12, who would then nominate another 25. A new blind draw would reduce those 25 to nine, who would pick a further 45, reduced by lot to 11. Those 11 would then choose 41, none of whom could have participated in any of the earlier stages. Those 41 would then pick the Doge.

Is there a sillier way to elect a leader? Yes. The one used by the Conservative Party. Venice was not an unqualified success story – my friend Douglas Carswell is forever citing it as an example of how free societies decline into oligarchy – but at least its electoral system did what it was designed to do, preserving a republican form of government for 529 years until Bonaparte invaded in 1797. The Conservative leadership rules, by contrast, do not deliver anything – not fairness nor consistency nor democracy.

The essential flaw in our system is this: you can become leader with the support of less than a third of your MPs; but, to keep the job, you need the support of more than half. Every other political party I know of gives its leader some incumbency advantage, so as to guarantee a measure of stability. Ours is the only one that raises the bar higher for sitting leaders.

Consider the 2001 leadership election. The final parliamentary round of voting left the remaining three candidates fairly evenly matched. Ken Clarke won 59 votes, Iain Duncan Smith 54 and Michael Portillo 53. Clarke and Duncan Smith therefore went forward to the ballot of party members, which IDS won comfortably. However, in order to stay on as leader, he needed the support of half the parliamentary party – 83 MPs. Two years later, he was challenged and, despite increasing his support from 54 to 75, he was toppled.

How did we end up with such a silly method? The usual reason: a hasty decision made with an eye on immediate headlines. I remember when it happened. We had just been hammered at the 1997 election, and the idea got about – as these things do – that we needed to involve our members more.

Until that time, the members had never asked for any direct involvement in the election of the party leader. There was certainly agitation for a greater role for party activists, led by the tireless John Strafford and his Campaign for Conservative Democracy. But, back in 1997, it was focused on making CCHQ (or CCO as it was in those days) more accountable. The demand was for more control over the functions of the Party Chairman and Treasurer. Almost everyone recognised that, in a parliamentary democracy, the party leader had to be able to command a majority in the Commons.

But because the demand for greater activist participation happened to coincide with the 1997 leadership election, the two things somehow became tangled in people’s minds, and the idea took hold that the way to involve party members more was to give them something that, until then, no one had asked for – namely, a final say over the election of the leader. Because MPs were reluctant to relinquish all their powers, the current hybrid was eventually brought squalling into the world and, in the way of these things, it has been left in place because no one wants the hassle of reopening the issue.

The trouble is that you can’t change the rules during the run-up to a contest, because everyone starts gaming the system to favour their preferred candidate. Then, once the election has taken place, everyone loses interest. So we have been stuck with this nonsense for 20 years.

This time, we shouldn’t let the matter slip. I suggest that, following the current leadership election, a suitable group of grandees be brought together, representing the 1922, the Board and the Cabinet, to consider a thorough overhaul of the system. To avoid being influenced, even subconsciously, by a preference for a particular future candidate, they should declare at the outset that there will be a delay in implementation. Perhaps the new system should take effect only following one more contest held under the existing rules, or perhaps it would come into play only in 2023 or some other future date. The point is, we should ensure that the people drawing it up are disinterestedly seeking the best system.

My own opinion, for what it’s worth, is that we should involve the members more in almost every aspect of the party except the election of its parliamentary leader. I’d like to see Party Conference debating and setting policy. I’d like to see MPs elected through primaries. I’d like to have a formal mechanism for members to have an input into the manifesto. I just can’t see how parliamentary sovereignty is compatible with a potential Prime Minister being nominated by an extra-parliamentary body.

Mine, though, is just one view. There may be much better ideas out there. But surely we can at least agree that the current method is not fit for purpose. We might as well choose our leader, as Tibet’s High Lamas select a new Dalai, by dreams and mystic signs. Let’s not put off the necessary reforms yet again.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com