Free Expression Online
Studies of Internet filtering, network interference, and other technologies and practices that impact freedom of expression online.
Featured in Free Expression Online
On May 7 2020, the Citizen Lab published a report that documents how WeChat (the most popular social app in China) conducts surveillance of images and files shared on the platform and uses the monitored content to train censorship algorithms. This document provides a summary of the research findings and questions and answers from the research team.
WeChat communications conducted entirely among non-China-registered accounts are subject to pervasive content surveillance that was previously thought to be exclusively reserved for China-registered accounts.
The analysis of YY and WeChat indicates broad censorship—blocking sensitive terms as well as general information and neutral references—potentially limiting the public’s ability to access information that may be essential to their health and safety.
This document provides a high-level introduction to deep packet inspection, Internet filtering, and targeted intrusion dual-use technologies with the aim of familizaring the reader with their key technical features, the surrounding international human rights law framework, and some of the leading research to date on their deployment.