Chinese-Made Portable Power Banks Can Spy on Users: Report

Chinese-Made Portable Power Banks Can Spy on Users: Report
A Chinese-made portable power bank. (Public domain)

Mainland Chinese media recently revealed that China-made portable power banks can eavesdrop on and locate users. They are available on the Chinese market and are not regulated by the regime.

The periodical Ban Yue Tan reported on July 27 that in recent years, power banks that can eavesdrop, position individuals, and have other functions that spy on users, are sold on the market. Just by modifying a built-in communication SIM card, the power bank can be transformed into a listening device and a tracker, enabling remote monitoring and precise positioning anytime, anywhere.

According to the report, when a resident, surnamed Wang in Guiyang city, took his power bank in for repair, the technician found eavesdropping and positioning equipment in it. The technician told him that once someone uses the function remotely, Mr. Wang's life will be "live broadcast” without him knowing it.

These types of power bank vary in color and style, but most of them have functions such as "remote monitoring and recording" and "precise positioning," and can be customized. The price ranges from 300 yuan to 600 yuan (about $45 to $89), and they are sold on some Chinese online marketplaces.

The Ban Yue Tan reporter ordered such a power bank, followed the instructions to download an app called “GPS365” to a cellphone, and used the login information provided by the seller to see all the functions such as positioning, trajectory, electronic fence, contacts, and messages on its webpage on the cellphone. The reporter clicked on "Location" and found that the movement trajectory of the power bank carrier can be clearly detected and recorded, even in subways, parking lots, and other places. Location does not affect the accuracy of the positioning function.

The seller also told the reporter that if the “Voice-activated chat” function is set up in the app, the recording function will be activated to record all the sound around the power bank that is 50 decibels or higher, and automatically transmit it to the cellphone.

Customized Spying Device

Most of the sellers on the online marketplaces promise that customers can choose functions, color, and style of the power banks.
 A Chinese-made power bank that has positioning and recording functions. (A Chinese website/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)
A Chinese-made power bank that has positioning and recording functions. (A Chinese website/Screenshot via The Epoch Times)

Xia Guijun, a senior product manager at the network center of China Mobile Guizhou Company, told the media that it’s very easy to convert a power bank into a listening device and tracker.

"Just put in a communication SIM card powered by the battery in the power bank, which is connected to the internet through wireless signals, and the data will be transmitted to the designated server. The person who uses it to spy on an individual who carries the power bank sends a request to the server with a specific mobile app to obtain the precise positioning and recording data through the SIM card.”

Besides power banks, Bluetooth speakers, power plugs, lighters, and other daily use devices are often converted into listening devices and trackers to spy on individuals in mainland China. Many sellers market such spying devices under the pretext of "anti-theft” and “preventing the elderly and children from getting lost."

At present, the Chinese communist regime does not require products such as GPS trackers to have certification, and there are no regulations against adding recording functions to devices.