If You Visit China, the Government May Be Stealing the Data on Your Phone

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary’s headline: “If You Visit China, the Government May Be Stealing the Data on Your Phone” Yea right. If you live in the USA, the NSA is tracking you. Google is tracking you. Facebook is tracking you. HHS is tracking your medical records. There are organizations that want to track everyone’s carbon footprint, to control their sustainability. I think we are heading towards “Minority Report” worldwide. 1984 on steroids. I think it is the great challenge in the next 100 years.

  2. There is a huge difference between private companies mining data to earn money and a government of 1.4 billion that doesn’t even hide it is fighting against democracy, human rights and independent courts worldwide

  3. @Alf. True, for now. President Reagan said: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

  4. If traveling to China, what are your thoughts about a short term satellite rental phone to protect personal data easily hacked via our personal cell phones? Does anyone know if China will permit a US citizen to travel with a satellite phone?

  5. @Sarah Busk: If you are worried about that. The linked article above says: “I’ve heard notional reports of people who erase their phones before entering certain countries, restoring their information from the cloud later on.” I would add, buy a cheap cell phone in China (I am guessing around $100 based on internet searches but I do not know since I have not done it), say good things about Xi, the communist party, and China while in China, reduce your contacts with outside of China. Toss the phone when you leave.

  6. It’s a common security practice for many businesses to forbid their staff (ESPECIALLY executives) from taking their own personal phones, laptops into Chinese territories.

    Before they leave the US/Canada, they are issued security-hardened laptops and phones that are only outfitted with essential details that the traveler can justify. These items are deemed “compromised” and are confiscated on their return.

    Although I’ve never travelled to China, I’ve heard suspicions that smartphones are allegedly compromised within minutes of connecting to the cell phone network.

    This is why IT security specialists make excellent coin in our field.

  7. I am also wondering about Hong Kong and Macau. I have brought my personal laptop and cellphone into both places. Anyone know?

  8. Hong Kong is fine.

    The USA is not. They will seize your electronic devices and mirror them on a whim. Don’t travel to the USA with any electronic devices you don’t want to be mirrored.

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