SenseTime surveillance software identifying details about people and vehicles runs as a demonstration at the company's office in Beijing, China, October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
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Filip Liu, a 31-year-old software developer from Beijing, was traveling in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang when he was pulled to one side by police as he got off a bus.Such surveillance technologies, tested out in the laboratory of Xinjiang, are now quietly spreading across China.Hand-held devices allow police to quickly check the content of phones on the street.The data shows over 129 million yuan ($19 million) in budgeting or spending on the equipment since the beginning of 2016, with amounts accelerating in 2017 and 2018 .In Shanghai, China's gleaming international port city, two districts budgeted around 600,000 yuan each to purchase phone scanners and data-ripping tools. A May 25 filing from a customs bureau in Beijing budgeted 5.7 million yuan for smartphone forensic tools from two providers, Meiya Pico and Resonant Ltd.Others listed tools that can breach well-known smartphone brands such as Samsung Electronics, Blackberry, China's own Xiaomi and Huawei, as well as Apple Inc.'s tough-to-crack iPhone.China spent roughly 1.24 trillion yuan on domestic security in 2017, accounting for 6.1 percent of total government spending and more than was spent on the military.Apple is also taking steps to stop devices like those used by Chinese police from cracking its phones.
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