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China Mobile Inspector Revealed How He Monitored the Internet

A former China Mobile worker disclosed the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) monitoring over its citizens’ phone conversations and text messages to Bitter Winter, a publication focused on the CCP’s human rights abuses.

The former inspector of China Mobile Online, who remained anonymous, said that China Mobile monitors its customers’ conversations and text messages using the excuse that it is managing “inappropriate messages.” Covering all territories in mainland China, its system can automatically detect messages related to politics and religion, including those messages against the CCP or those that make fun of the top leaders. All the detected messages must go through a manual inspection.

The former inspector worked with at least 500 colleagues on this duty and their work was intense.

“If you accidentally let a ‘sensitive message’ pass, your monthly salary will be reduced and your annual bonus will be impacted, too. I usually had to process over 10,000 messages each month. In a year’s time it was inevitable to make a mistake or two.”

“Almighty God,” “Falun Gong,” and other religious words are “sensitive words.” Any mention of “Party,” “Quitting the Party,” and “Quitting the Communist Youth League” in messages or discussions is also tightly monitored.

“Any information that is negative about the CCP is put in the politics category,” he explained, “For example, the information about the CCP conducting live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners is directly ‘dealt with’ (meaning deleted), to prevent it from being circulated.”

“If sensitive words were detected in conversations, Multimedia Messaging Services, test messages, or WeChat postings, the system will automatically block it. It will lock the user’s account and prohibit the user from making phone calls or sending messages. The user has to bring his ID card to China Mobile’s retail office and write a guarantee statement to promise not to send sensitive messages any more in order to get his account unlocked.”

Locking a user account or phone is still a small warning. The authorities will impose much harsher punishment for “severe cases.” A resident in Fujian Province was stopped at China’s border. The border guards destroyed his passport and prevented him from going abroad. They said that he had sent messages in the WeChat group to criticize a CCP leader, which was “insulting national leaders and disrupting the public order.”

“The monitoring standard has been updated frequently in the past few years. As it progresses, it gets stricter and stricter, with fewer and fewer loopholes.”

Source: Bitter Winter, December 4, 2019

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