The profiles and private messages of more than 300 million users of six Chinese social media apps were leaked online, revealing the information was gathered by a government surveillance programme, a cybersecurity researcher with the non-profit GDI Foundation claimed.
In a tweet, Victor Gevers said the programme extracts names; ID numbers and photographs; GPS locations; network information; conversations; and file transfers. He estimates 364 million online profiles and messages are processed each day, then distributed to police stations around China.
Among the messaging services monitored were QQ and WeChat, both operated by internet giant Tencent.
The database was secured after Gevers exposed the problem, Financial Times reported.
Around 364 million online profiles and their chats & file transfers get processed daily. Then these accounts get linked to a real ID/person. The data is then distributed over police stations per city/province to separate operators databases with the same surveillance network name
— Victor Gevers (@0xDUDE) March 2, 2019
In another tweet, he said the surveillance programme on social networks looks like a jerry-rigged Prism clone, referring to the US National Security Agency surveillance system revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013.
A Twitter user named Yuan Yang responded to one of Gever’s posts by noting a possible factor behind the leak is local governments telling web cafes to install monitoring apps on their computers.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back