Washington, D.C. (All Tech Considered) — China Intercepts WeChat Texts From U.S. And Abroad, Researcher Says.
A cyber researcher says he found unsecured databases in China storing billions of conversations and user information from the app. NPR spoke to U.S. citizens who say their messages were blocked.
Chinese cyberspace is one of the most surveilled and censored in the world. That includes WeChat. Owned by Tencent, one of China's biggest companies, the chat-meets-payment app has more than 1 billion monthly users in China and now serves users outside the country, too, although it does not divulge how many. Researchers say its use abroad has extended the global reach of China's surveillance and censorship methods.
As Chinese technology companies expand their footprint outside China, they are also sweeping up vast amounts of data from foreign users. Now, analysts say they know where the missing messages are: Every day, millions of WeChat conversations held inside and outside China are flagged, collected and stored in a database connected to public security agencies in China, according to a Dutch Internet researcher.