Chinese Army Tells Soldiers Not to Use Takeout Apps
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2017-02-24 11:57:17

Ordering a steaming, styrofoam bowl of fried rice to be delivered to one’s door is the lunchtime routine for millions of Chinese, but for the country’s soldiers, takeout apps are now off the menu.

Using a smartphone to order food or hail a ride may leak confidential information, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily — the official newspaper of China’s armed forces — told soldiers Tuesday. The apps could divulge the identities of military personnel or expose the location of military bases.

The article cited a soldier surnamed Zhang who was spotted accepting food from a courier at the gate of his military base. Officer You Peng, who was on patrol, discovered that Zhang had ordered takeout using an app, thereby giving the deliveryman his personal information and the location of the base. You asked the deliveryman to delete the information and reported the case.

The PLA Daily has published other articles on the security risks of smartphone use in the past.

On Tuesday, the newspaper warned soldiers that they are in danger of leaking confidential information when they play mobile payment app Alipay’s “Fu” game — an entertainment feature in which users can earn real money by searching for new year’s banners, similar to the app’s red envelope game.

The newspaper reported Friday on three PLA cadres who had been criticized for breaching disciplinary policy because they had shared military notices via messaging app WeChat. The article even quoted a saying from imperial times: “For the military, nothing is more important than secrecy.”

In two articles from late 2016, the PLA cautioned military personnel against talking in WeChat chat groups and sending voice messages, as these forms of communication may also leak information, and advised its personnel not to use their real names or profile pictures. Using the app to send red envelopes — a traditional Chinese way of gifting money — could hurt relationships among soldiers, the PLA Daily said.

In August 2016, the newspaper reported on new live-streaming regulations introduced in one army group that said soldiers can only use the highly popular apps while on leave, and only if they don’t divulge state secrets or their identities.

(Header image: Soldiers march during a training exercise in Haozhou, Anhui province, Nov. 22, 2010. Zhang Yanlin/VCG)