(From Globe and Mail)

Hundreds of millions of Android smartphone users have downloaded photo-collage, karaoke and video-chat apps that send location data and other identifying details back to servers in China, a new report has found.

The information is collected by Chinese search and advertising engine giant Baidu, which collects users’ GPS co-ordinates, names of nearby wireless networks and a unique device number that can be used to identify a person’s phone, according to findings contained in a new report from The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

That information is stored on Baidu servers. The company says it gives Chinese authorities access to its data in accordance with local laws.

But placing such material in government hands could provide a detailed picture of a person’s movements and contacts, potentially threatening those who anger the Chinese state, such as human rights campaigners or democracy activists, said Ronald Deibert, the lab’s director.

“That is obviously the ultimate and most serious risk,” he said. Read More

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