Chinese authorities have issued notifications in several regions, urging parents, under the pretext of “preventing online crimes,” to check their children’s mobile phones in order to remove “secret chat apps.”
According to reports from state media outlets like Guangming Daily Online, the official WeChat public account of the Nanjing Public Security Bureau stated on the 16th that secret chat apps, known for their strong encryption and features like “disappearing messages,” provide criminals with a convenient means to destroy evidence, making these apps a “gray area.”
Law enforcement agencies have expressed concern that criminals exploit secret chat apps to manipulate minors through deception, coaxing them into providing personal information and engaging in illegal activities. In some cases, individuals who assist in such online crimes can be charged with “assisting information network criminal activities,” which carries a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment, detention, or a fine for serious offenses.
Apart from the Nanjing police, similar warnings have been issued by authorities in various locations, including Fuzhou City in Fujian Province, Dazhou City in Sichuan Province, Hainanzhou in Qinghai Province, Hezhou City in Guangxi Province, Tongliao City in Inner Mongolia, and Lanzhou City in Gansu Province.
Some notifications also urge teachers and parents to check if their children have installed such apps on their phones, warning that their children may be assisting overseas fraudsters in illegal activities. If any installed apps are discovered, it is advised to take the matter seriously, inform the child about the potential harm, and accompany them to the nearest public security agency to investigate whether they are involved in any illegal activities.
The mentioned problematic apps include WhatsApp, Telegram, and Twitter, which are commonly used overseas.
Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), May 22, 2023