mobile spyware

Families of exiled tibetans ordered to install cell phone spyware

Detention after phone search in Chamdo and Drag-yab County known to last up to three months

Chinese police authorities in Drag-yab County (Ch: Zhag’yab County) and Chamdo have been monitoring families of exiled Tibetans with special attention for the past two years.

Aerial View of Drag-yab County

Aerial View of Drag-yab County

New surveillance tactics were recently introduced, which require Tibetans with exiled relatives and family members to install an application on their phones. Tibet Watch learned from the source that the Chinese authorities have made it compulsory for those Tibetans to download the phone application, which allows unprecedented access to phone data. Anyone found with photos and videos deemed “politically sensitive” by police authorities and contacting Tibetans living outside Tibet, were arbitrarily detained for two to three months. They have also been kept under surveillance upon release and subjected to restrictions on movement.


Highlighting the ongoing surveillance of mobile phones in Drag-yab County, Tibet Watch received a delayed report of the arbitrary detention of a Tibetan nun. A local source confided that Lobsang Tsomo (Tib: བློ་བཟང་མཚོ་མོ།) was arrested by Chinese police authorities around mid-November on suspicion of contacting Tibetans living outside Tibet. She was detained for three months in police custody and severely beaten during her interrogations. In addition to keeping her under constant surveillance, she is also prevented from travelling outside the jurisdiction of her home county. The local source has suggested that several other nuns have been arrested along with Lobsang Tsomo, but gathering further confirmation is difficult due to surveillance on communication.

Expressing the effect of the permanent surveillance on Tibetan’s daily life, the source commented, “The restrictions on people’s movement and online censorship are becoming a serious concern and getting worse day by day in Drag-yab and Chamdo.”

Information supplied by Tibet Watch

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