Citizen Lab Director Ron Deibert spoke to CNN International on Citizen Lab’s recent report, titled “One App, Two Systems: How WeChat uses one censorship policy in China and another internationally.” In the report, researchers provide the first systematic study of keyword and website censorship on WeChat, the most popular chat app in China. Notably, the report found that Chinese registered WeChat users can be censored even if they were not currently based in China. “The censorship follows them around, effectively,” Deibert explained.
When asked about surveillance concerns, Deibert added that given other indications from the country, it was likely that WeChat was storing user data, and would be expected to hand it over to Chinese authorities upon request.
The report forms part of a broader Citizen Lab initiative to study censorship practices on instant messaging applications.