US Government Selling Potential Tools For Chinese Surveillance

Recent reports confirm that the U.S. government is currently selling televisions that could potentially be used as surveillance devices for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The government is marketing smart TVs on military bases to personnel and families that have the capability to relay user data back to China.

The brands TCL and Hisense, both of which are sold on military bases, are owned and controlled by the Chinese government.

Currently, four TCL smart TV models and 14 Hisense TVs are for sale on the website of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, which is the U.S. Department of Defense’s largest worldwide retailer on military installations.

The problem is not isolated to the military, either. Walmart’s website lists TCL and Hisense as among their best-selling smart TV brands. In 2021, Chinese brands TCL, Hisense, Xiaomi and Skyworth made up 29.5% of the global television market sales volume.

The Chinese companies do not even attempt to hide their intentions. The companies’ privacy policies openly state that a vast amount of user data may be collected and transmitted back to China.

Intelligence experts worry that the devices can easily be used by the CCP in an array of problematic ways, much like the data harvesting done by the social media application TikTok.

A report by Australian-U.S. cybersecurity firm Internet 2.0 concluded that TikTok collects “excessive” amounts of information from its users around the world. Robert Potter, co-CEO of Internet 2.0 and one of the editors of the report, pointed out that in many cases the information does not need to be collected for the application to function.

“When the app is in use, it has significantly more permissions than it really needs,” said Potter.

“The application can and will run successfully without any of this data being gathered,” reported Internet 2.0. “This leads us to believe that the only reason this information has been gathered is for data harvesting.”

With this already happening in one of the world’s most popular social media apps, there is little room to doubt that the CCP would employ similar tactics with the information-collecting smart TVs.