Official app from the Chinese Communist Party spies on its users

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RESTRICTIONS: Broadcast: NO USE JAPAN, NO USE TAIWAN Digital: NO USE JAPAN, NO USE TAIWAN
A new report from German cyber security firm Cure53 in collaboration with the U.S.-based Open Technology Fund has found that Chinese app Study the Great Nation contains code that allows authorities to access users' phone data including messages, photos, internet history and phone contacts.

The app was launched in January and consists of news articles, videos and quizzes about President Xi Jinping's ideology, called "Xi Jinping Thought."

The terms and conditions for the app, which was developed by Alibaba and the Chinese Communist Party, allow for it to have access to take photos and videos, collect location data, activate audio recording and even dial phone numbers. The app can also collect information from 960 different apps present on the users' phone, including apps related to shopping and traveling.

Cure53 observed the Android version of the app and found that it was actively collecting data on numerous running services and then storing the data onto the phone's external storage.

However, the report said it found "no evidence" that this information was being used.

The security firm's report also found that the code also permits "superuser" privileges. This could allow authorities to download any software, modify files or even log users' keystrokes.

When contacted by the Washington Post, China's State Council Information Office said, "We learned from those who run the Study the Great Nation app that there is no such thing as you have mentioned."

Alibaba declined to comment and referred the Washington Post's questions to China's Propaganda Department.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Chinese app, messaging icon, photos icon, internet icon and phone contacts icon
2. Other information the app has access to
3. App collecting data and storing it onto an external storage
4. Superuser privileges that the code allows the app to access

VOICEOVER (in English):
"A new report from German cyber security firm Cure53 in collaboration with the U.S.-based Open Technology Fund has found that Chinese app Study the Great Nation contains code that allows authorities to access users' phone data including messages, photos, internet history and phone contacts."

"The terms and conditions for the app, which was developed by Alibaba and the Chinese Communist Party, allow for it to have access to take photos and videos, collect location data, activate audio recording and even dial phone numbers."

"The app can also collect information from 960 different apps present on the users' phone, including apps related to shopping and traveling."

"Cure53 observed the Android version of the app and found that it was actively collecting data on numerous running services and then storing the data onto the phone's external storage."

"However, the report said it found 'no evidence' that this information was being used."

"The security firm's report also found that the code also permits 'superuser' privileges."

"This could allow authorities to download any software, modify files or even log users' keystrokes."

SOURCES: BBC News, Cure53 report, Washington Post
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-50042379
https://cure53.de/analysis_report_sgn.pdf
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/chinese-app-on-xis-ideology-allows-data-access-to-100-million-users-phones-report-says/2019/10/11/2d53bbae-eb4d-11e9-bafb-da248f8d5734_story.html