China's Xinjiang, home to the country's Uyghur Muslim population, has been faced with state-sponsored oppression for decades. A recently released report revealed that a mobile "tracking" application has been used by police officers and authorities to monitor Uyghur citizens.
Human Rights Watch, in collaboration with Berlin-based security firm Cure53, reverse engineered the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP) app and found that authorities collect personal information of the Xinjiang population - that are not just limited to name, height, and blood type.
Information such as which apps the individual uses (including WhatsApp) and how much electricity the person consumes are some of the things collected via the "Big Brother" app, as HRW calls it. The app also allows for the reporting of suspicious activities by alerting a nearby government official to look into the matter further. The official then decides whether the person involved should be investigated.
"The mass surveillance system presents the possibility of real-time, all-encompassing surveillance. Chinese authorities are collecting an oceanic amount of data about people to develop a fine-grained understanding of human behavior, and then controlling that behavior," HRW writes in the report.
In Aug. 2018, it was reported that China locks up Muslims in camps. More than one million are held in what are allegedly "counter-extremism centers" in the far west of the country, according to Gay McDougall, the vice chairperson of the UN anti-discrimination committee.
"Another two million have been forced into so-called re-education camps for political and cultural indoctrination," she added.
According to BuzzFeed News, the detainees are "held without charge, taught Chinese, compelled to sing patriotic songs and learn Chinese Communist Party doctrine."
Muslims in China have faced persecution for years. The government has banned parents from giving their kids certain Islamic names and also prohibited burqas and so-called "abnormal beards."
China's Uyghur, a predominantly Muslim minority in the country, constitute about 45 percent of the Xinjiang province's population, according to the BBC.