Phone search program violates Uyghurs’ rights

by Anne Kader

Image:  Niek Verlaan / Pixabay




By Anne Kader




Chinese Police in the Uyghur Homeland utilize a list of 50,000 multimedia files of alleged ‘terrorists or otherwise violent individuals’ to flag Uyghur and other Turkic residents for interrogation in ‘Xinjiang’ (that Uyghurs prefer to call East Turkistan), Human Rights Watch reports.


A Human Rights Watch investigated the metadata of this list and found that during nine months from 2017 to 2018, police conducted nearly 11 million searches of a total of 1.2 million mobile phones in Urumqi, a city of 3.5 million residents. Automated police mass surveillance systems enabled this phone search. Uyghurs having the Quran on their phone, among other religious materials, can prompt a police interrogation.


The list is part of a previously published database (52GB) of over 1,600 data tables from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region leaked to the United States media organization The Intercept in 2019. 


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