China’s “intelligence-led policing”, which relies on gathering data to identify possible or repeat offenders, was partly copied from the British police, who pioneered the approach in the 1990s, Mr Walton said.
The IJOP app prompts police to gather a vast range of details about individuals they are interrogating. In addition, the app presents data taken from various sources — such as someone consuming more electricity than usual — as flags for “suspicious” behaviour.
Data labels found in the IJOP app overlapped with those found in a recent data leak from the Chinese police contractor SenseNets, which was found to have collected almost 6.7m GPS co-ordinates in a 24-hour period, tracing 2.6m people, mainly in Xinjiang. The matching data labels suggest that multiple companies and sources are feeding into the IJOP system.
The app also dispatches police on missions, for example to interview someone who has left the area of their household registration or who has returned home after spending “too long” abroad.