WeChat, a Threat to All?

Tencent’s widely used instant-chatting mobile app WeChat has, as previously reported, been accused of putting Chinese dissidents at risk by revealing user data to the government. From Nicola Davison at the Guardian: WeChat is similar to the popular US-based mobile messaging serviceWhatsApp, but it does more. An amalgamation of social media tools akin to Twitter, Facebook and Skype, it comes in eight languages including English, Arabic and Russian. […] Hu Jia, a human rights activist jailed for three years on a charge of sedition, suspects that voicemail messages to his friends had been listened to by guobao officials (internal security bureau). “I took a chance and assumed WeChat was relatively safe,” he said. “It’s a new product and not developed by China Mobile or China Unicom, [two of China’s main telecoms companies], which have been monitoring my calls and text messages for over 10 years. But the guobao surprised me with their ability to repeat my words or voice messages verbatim, though I’m sure I only sent them to some friends through WeChat.” […] Adam Segal, a Council on Foreign Relations cyber-security expert, said that WeChat was not alone in offering potential security loopholes. “Information technology services and software are all fundamentally insecure,” he said. “WeChat shouldn’t be singled out in this instance. Many technologies have some type of vulnerability, and a directed adversary can figure out vulnerabilities to exploit and gather intelligence.” At Tech in Asia, Charles Custer discussed the other side of the coin: That WeChat, like all domestic social media, poses a security risk to dissidents should not come as a surprise. Nor is it particularly surprising that countries like Taiwan are concerned about the potential security implications of the service. But interestingly, Chinese authorities see the service as something of a threat as well. On Sunday ...
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