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China Crime Privacy Security Transportation Technology

Chinese Spying Devices Installed On Hong Kong Cars 171

Posted by timothy
from the it's-coming-from-inside-the-faraday-cage dept.
jjp9999 writes "Spying devices disguised as electronic border cards have been secretly installed on thousands of Hong Kong vehicles by Chinese authorities, according to a Hong Kong newspaper. A translation of the story states Chinese authorities have been installing spying devices on all dual-plate Chinese-Hong Kong vehicles for years, enabling a vast network of eavesdropping across the archipelago."
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Chinese Spying Devices Installed On Hong Kong Cars

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  • by lscotte (450259) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @02:06AM (#36432856)

    When, according to the article, it "is taped onto the vehicle’s front window".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @02:12AM (#36432888)

    How does seeing help....

    When it is disguised as a border pass transponder, which you'd pretty much expect to have "taped onto the vehicle’s front window"?

  • by tmach (886393) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @02:31AM (#36432970)

    Actually, the current suggestion is to put a device on your car to track the mileage so they can tax you based on how much you drive.

    http://money.cnn.com/2011/05/18/news/economy/gas_tax_drivers/?section=money_latest [cnn.com]

  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @03:12AM (#36433094) Homepage

    stick the bug into the license plate!

    I do wonder how they work technically. I mean, there can't be much space for a battery in such a licence plate. You can't use RFID like technology at a distance of more than 10-50 meters, which would make actual eavesdropping a challenge even for a government. If it is to have any semblance of being secret obviously you can't use the car's battery or electrical systems.

    Very weak radio transmitters still need about a watt for reasonable communications (ie. cell phones). So if you wish to use something like this for, say a year (they're valid for a year), you'd need a tiny, tiny 31 MJ (that's megajoule) battery, or 3 KWh, but it can't be much larger than a watch battery.

    So how the hell do you keep that thing powered ?

    For that matter, which radio do you use ? Cell network ? It would require a hell of a lot of people in the loop.

  • the source... (Score:5, Informative)

    by mathfeel (937008) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @03:35AM (#36433176)
    I clicked the link and was about to RTFA, then I spotted that it's from "The Epoch Time" referencing an article from "The Apple Daily". I am from HK and those are not two news sources that I trust. The first is a media front for the Fa Lun Gong, which as much as I dislike communism, I have a worse distaste for a money sucking "religious" cult. The latter is a sensationalist tabloid paper. It is famous for its yellow journalism. If you want a report on fact, that's not it.
  • by Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @06:41AM (#36433832) Homepage

    Active broadcasting a signal takes a lot of power. A typical mobile phone can last maybe 10-12 hours on a charge, when talking. Up to two weeks standby. For these devices well let's be generous, make it double the time, that's 24 hours of broadcasting signals. The rest of the year: no battery. And I didn't see a battery on the photos.

    What have you been smoking? There is only one photo in TFA linked article. Look again - see the blue shrink wrapped batteries? [theepochtimes.com] Still no? How about now? [youtube.com]

    The device will not fit in your shirt pocket - it's a little larger than an iPhone (I and other posters have seen these devices). As for your proof - again, what the fuck have you been smoking? A phone and this device have little in common when it comes to power consumption (see if you can work out why). Hint - I can buy devices on the open market that will transmit an audio signal for more 12 months - and they will fit in my pocket. No nuclear power pack involved. Don't go basing you idea of surveillance technology on what the FBI leaves attached to the bottom of Arab students cars - you can bet the Chinese have access to far more sophisticated devices than I can buy.

    The rest of your screed is pure castles in the air - try getting off the sofa and visiting the world. China == Hong Kong - lip-service is the only difference between one side of the border and the other. The speculated range of the devices is just that. Speculated. As for signal interception - really, are you fucking serious? Do you hear mobile telephone calls on your transistor? (and that's a GHz crystal in the photo you can't see - just under the battery pack that doesn't exist).

    Consider it - every insightful argument you've come up with is wrong - you can't see the obvious, and you can't even count up to two properly. And no, advertisements don't count as pictures. But hey - don't let your ignorance to stop from being an expert in Chinese spying devices, it never stopped you from making laughably clueless statements about the nature of emails or programming.

    A dollar gets me ten you've got some weasely denial.

  • by Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @06:56AM (#36433872) Homepage

    And that's where I get stuck - trying to figure out what is profitable to smuggle into China. Milk products made from milk?

    Religious texts and other restricted or forbidden items or material, drugs.

    That's the problem - pot's kind of hard to get hold of down south, but up north it's not hard to find. Methamphetamines are everywhere Cocaine I wouldn't know about - but I'd be surprised if it wasn't available - there's certainly plenty of heroin moving around. Firearms are dirt cheap. China makes most of the things that are illegal in the West. And there's no money in Bibles - they're not even restricted anymore - it's only fruitcake Americans that bang on about raising money to ship Bibles to China - there's a hell of a lot more Bibles in China than there are people who want to read them. Trust me - after you've spent a couple of days in the industrial and commercial boom-towns you begin to realise that if there's a demand it'll be satisfied in just a couple of days, well maybe not satisfactory, and probably toxic. Whiskey is cheaper in China than Hong Kong. As for western tech - it's all made there in the first place. I agree there's got to be a market for smuggling something into China (apart from smuggling workers without passes back). On the other hand a shitload of stuff gets smuggled into Hong Kong.

  • Re:It's China... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @07:04AM (#36433900)

    You need to follow the source!

    The original [googleusercontent.com] is from Apple Daily, the second highest circulation (300,000 in a city of 7 million) newspaper in Hong Kong. It is not particularly pro-Falun Gong. It has strongly pro-democracy (HK doesn't have much of that), pro-free market, pro working class, with the usual Hong Kong mix of high minded analysis, original poetry and literature, lurid celebrity coverage, and serialized softcore porn!

    The original article seems well researched. The guy who took it apart is an associate professor in electronic engineering in a local university (City University of Hong Kong). He said that there is a sensitive microphone (which seems unnecessary for its stated function) and a transmitter powerful enough to monitor major urban areas in Hong Kong from across the border.

    They went for a second opinion from a PI who said that the transmission range would be a lot lower that the estimated 20 km in built up areas. However, there is no particular reason why China would confine its monitoring to the Chinese mainland outside of Hong Kong. Even apart from the fact that they have taken over the UK/US built monitoring facilities in Hong Kong covering the entire South China sea, Hong Kong is full of Chinese owned companies who could be directed to operate monitoring stations in what is, after all, sovereign Chinese territory.

    The main cause for alarm in the original article is whether this might compromise commercial secrets in negotiations between private Hong Kong businessmen, and Chinese companies with semi-official connection.

  • Re:"No charge, Sir" (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrsam (12205) on Tuesday June 14, 2011 @08:23AM (#36434268) Homepage

    In the US, drivers have to buy their own RFID transponders just for the privilege of being able to pay tolls electronically.

    Not necessarily. I did not pay for my EZ-Pass transponder. At least in New York and New Jersey, two of the states that use the EZ-Pass transponder that I can vouch from personal experience, the transponder is given to you free if you have the tolls billed automatically to your credit card.

    Which is, pretty much, is the only practical approach. If you take the other option of getting a prepaid transponder, they'll charge you for it. But, having to constantly prepay is just not worth the hassle, in my opinion. It's much more convenient to have the agency automatically bill you. With the tolls being as high as they are, you'll be spending all your time adding money to the account. It's just not worth it.

    There are some states in the EZ-Pass system that charge for transponders. But you do not have to buy a transponder from your state's agency. New York will give EZ-Pass to any state's resident. If your state's EZ-Pass gives discounts on some in-state tolls, you won't get them from New York though.

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