App Privacy and Controls

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Research into privacy, security, and information controls of popular applications.

Latest Research

Asia Chats: LINE Corporation Responds

This post is an update to our report on regionally-based keyword censorship in the popular chat application LINE. It covers responses from LINE Corporation to questions around censorship functionality in the application and recent changes to how keyword censorship and traffic encryption operate in the latest versions of LINE.

Asia Chats: Analyzing Information Controls and Privacy in Asian Messaging Applications

This post is an introduction to Asia Chats a research project analyzing
information controls and privacy in mobile messaging applications used
in Asia. The project will produce a series of reports that will begin
with a focus on WeChat, LINE, and KakaoTalk. Reports will include
analysis based on our technical investigation of censorship or
surveillance functionality, assessment of privacy issues surrounding
these applications’ use and storage of user data, and comparison of the
terms of service and privacy policies of the applications.

Asia Chats: Investigating Regionally-based Keyword Censorship in LINE

This report by Seth Hardy (Senior Security Analyst, Citizen Lab)
describes the technical details of client-side censorship functionality
in the LINE messenger client for Android, and a method for disabling it.
This post is the first in a series of research reports analyzing
information controls and privacy in mobile messaging applications used
in Asia. An introduction to the project can be found here

Who’s the Boss? The difficulties of identifying censorship in an environment with distributed oversight: A large-scale comparison of Wikipedia China with Hudong and Baidu Baike

This project is a large-scale comparison of the three services, matching thousands of Chinese-language Wikipedia articles with their in-China counterparts, in order to identify the “content gaps” in the two baike. The difficulties of identifying traditional cases of information control in environments with distributed oversight like online enclopedias will be discussed. The research methodology and some of the initial results (including tables of possibly censored articles) will also be presented.

Using the China Chats surveillance/censorship keyword list: analyzing blocked terms, search result numbers, and overlaps of censored terms between services

Working with the just-released China Chats keyword list, Jason Q. Ng extended The Citizen Lab/UNM’s analysis by checking whether each of the 4,256 keywords was blocked from searching on Sina Weibo. This report includes further analysis and examination of other potential censorship tactics by Weibo revealed in the data.

China Chats: Tracking surveillance and censorship in TOM-Skype and Sina UC

In this collaborative study between the Citizen Lab and Department of Computer Science at the University of New Mexico we examine the implementation of censorship and surveillance in two IM clients maintained by two different Chinese companies. For a period of more than a year and a half, we downloaded and decrypted the censorship and surveillance keyword lists used by the client software of two IM programs used in China: TOM-Skype and Sina UC.