If you’re ever heading into China’s Xinjiang province, don’t be surprised if the border guards seize your phone as part of the security screening. Not only that, you should also expect the personnel to install malware onto your phone to see what’s inside.
A collaborated report by Motherboard, Süddeutsche Zeitung, NDR, the Guardian, and the New York Times states that the malware was supposed to be deleted after the spooking is over. But carelessness on the border guard’s part has brought this to light. The malware itself isn’t especially sophisticated either, and the border guard will order you to unlock your phone so that the malware can be installed.
The Chinese authorities are using the malware to not only download your text messages, calendar entries and phone logs, but also scan devices for a wide range of content. They include innocuous as well as extremist Islamic material, academic books on the religion, as even music from a Japanese metal band. That last one may seem out of place, but the band in question is called Unholy Grave, and happens to have a song called Taiwan: Another China.
You may be aware of China’s mass-surveillance efforts in the Xinjiang province. While this may be a part of that, it odd to see even foreigners and tourists being subjected to it.