Recently, it was found that the app “Study the Great Nation”, launched by China in January is used for surveillance purposes too. “It is an electronic handcuff”, says a Chinese twitter.
The App was launched by the Chinese Communist Party, led by President Xi Jinping. It was the most downloaded app by the people of China. It is reported that around 100 million users have the app on their phones.
But on examining the code in the app, it was found that every image and message could be retrieved from the user’s phone. The internet history could be traced and contacts could be browsed easily.
The government is expanding surveillance over the everyday activities of its citizens, says Sarah Aoun, the Open Technology Fund director. It is an initiative under Radio Free Asia, which is funded by the U.S. government.
It is said that the app is used to encourage the ideological control of the Communist Party over the Chinese. It contains many activities and ideologies of President Xi Jinping, including videos and news articles. It also provides “superuser” access to 100 million cellphones and its data.
German cybersecurity firm Cure53 is contracted by Open Tech Fund, to make a detailed analysis of what is happening. It has identified a back door installed in the app, by which it has “superuser” privileges that can be run by arbitrary commands.
“Superuser” privileges provide the power to developers to download software, modify data, install programs and other such functions.
Adam Lynn, the Research Director of Open Tech Fund, says that such a high level of access to devices is not necessary unless “you are doing what you are not supposed to do”.
The terms and conditions while downloading the apps state that users should agree to provide access to all information and functions through their phones. The user’s location, dial phone number, and audio recording can be accessed through the app.