(Minghui.org) Recently, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has forced Tencent to upgrade WeChat to include functionality that the CCP's security organ needs in order to make the application easier to use for surveillance purposes.

WeChat is the most popular mobile app for social media communication among Chinese people, but there have been many reports on its security risks. The CCP's enhanced monitoring capabilities in this latest update will further erode user privacy.

Minghui.org published an editorial in June 2018 urging Falun Dafa practitioners, be they inside or outside China, to avoid using apps such as WeChat completely. The new WeChat upgrade has made it even more imperative for practitioners who haven't heeded the editorial's advice to take action.

Enhanced Monitoring Capabilities

The new version makes it very easy for CCP's monitoring staff to carry out their duties. They can now run the application from their own computers or mobile phones, whereas previously they had to connect to the app's server in order to keep tabs on a WeChat instance.

The CCP has authorized county-level domestic security agencies to use the software. An internet monitoring staff member working for any county, big or small, can monitor anyone’s WeChat usage, regardless if they are inside or outside China. The staff can also interfere with WeChat usage remotely, such as deleting a user's post or blocking certain accounts.

The Domestic Security Division has been monitoring Falun Dafa practitioners for years. They started keeping track of practitioners' frequent WeChat contacts in the second half of this year. If they suspect that someone is going to learn Falun Dafa, they can trigger the phone's front-facing camera to take pictures of the person and send it to them.

Due to its monitoring of WeChat, the CCP has instructed its police and state security staff to uninstall WeChat to avoid third-party surveillance of their own communications.

Practitioners Should Uninstall WeChat

The most prominent flaw with WeChat is that it does not provide end-to-end encryption, the gold standard for privacy. This allows the CCP to monitor all WeChat communications in real time.

Moreover, the Chinese authorities can request that Tencent share any user's WeChat communication history and the user's metadata, including their jobs, life, and habits, at any time.

An additional danger is posed when the CCP tries to control smartphone hardware such as cameras and microphones via WeChat or other Chinese apps without the owner's consent or awareness.

What's more, the CCP's monitoring is not limited to people inside China. Anyone who uses WeChat or other Chinese mobile apps under the control of the CCP can fall victim.

Here are some ways to avoid the CCP's monitoring:

1. Uninstall WeChat and other unnecessary Chinese mobile apps. Use email instead of phone when conducting business online.

2. Restore the phone settings to the manufacturer's original settings. Turn off mobile apps' permissions to use the camera and microphone.

3. Avoid using phones manufactured in China if possible.

4. Use older versions of smartphones or basic phones that cannot be remotely controlled by the CCP.

5. Do not install unknown apps on your phone. When receiving text messages from unknown sources asking you to install apps, delete them and never click on any links.

Most importantly, for Falun Dafa practitioners, we should be sure to maintain righteous thoughts and righteous actions, just as Master told us – “one righteous mind can subdue one hundred evils.” (Lecture Three, Zhuan Falun, 2014 Translation)