Beijing — A leak of about 364-million online records in a Chinese database, including private messages and identity numbers, has again highlighted the size and scope of Beijing’s mass surveillance system. The files show a wealth of information linked to online accounts, including GPS locations, file transfers, and chat logs, according to the database discovered by Victor Gevers, a security researcher at Dutch non-profit GDI Foundation. The data collection appears indiscriminate — some conversations are simply banter between teenagers, like one commenting on someone’s weight and clothing size. “They know exactly who, when, what and where,” Gevers said, explaining that thousands of records were piped daily to different databases for local law enforcement to review. Government procurement documents and database records shared by Gevers show that the database is linked to an “internet café management system”, developed by HeadBond.com, a tech firm based in eastern Shandong province. In ...

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