This study reveals the heightened digital monitoring by the Chinese government in Tibet, which includes the mandatory downloading of the ‘National Anti-Fraud Centre’ app on mobile devices. While initially advertised as a way to prevent fraud, the app is actually a significant component of a wider surveillance system. The report was created in partnership with Tibet Watch based on testimonies from a Tibetan refugee living in Golog, located in eastern Tibet (currently part of Qinghai province).
We conducted research on the Android and Windows Desktop versions of this app and discovered that the gathered data could be used for more than just detecting internet fraud. It could also be used for broader control measures, such as integrating with databases managed by the Criminal Investigation Bureau. This reflects the overall strategies of surveillance and supervision in the area.
The study also looks into the ‘Tibet Underworld Criminal Integrated Intelligence Application Platform’, a complex platform for policing that utilizes big data. Examination of government procurement notices showed that this platform combines data from different existing systems within the Public Security Bureau in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and stores it in a central Oracle database. This database, built on U.S. technology, plays a key role in a campaign that labels even mild cultural, religious, linguistic and social activities as criminal in Tibet.
This study of how the Chinese security state is using big data analytics in Tibet to gain control sheds new insight on the Party’s influence in personal aspects. This not only alters communication methods, but also creates a widespread sense of fear and mistrust, ultimately resulting in a breakdown of relationships.
Advanced technologies, such as AI-driven systems that combine facial recognition with internet browsing and app-based monitoring, DNA and genomic surveillance, and GIS tracking data, are being integrated in Tibet. This highlights a concerning approach to governance in the 21st century, where machine learning is used to prioritize state control and suppression over individual freedoms and self-determination.
The use of spyware and Universal Forensic Extraction Devices (UFEDs) at police checkpoints in Tibet and Xinjiang has clear similarities. Both regions have advanced big data analytics platforms in place, with a common goal of intelligence-led policing to maintain control and suppress dissent. The civilian surveillance systems in these areas are based on military Command and Control (C4ISR) systems and integrated PLA joint operations doctrine. Chinese software developers have recognized this shift, treating cities and towns as if they were battlefields.
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