The Chinese government has been accessing deleted WeChat messages without a warrant, leading to easy crackdowns on dissidents.
According to Business Insider, Chinese authorities were able to get a confession after they retrieved deleted messages from an “anti-corruption body” without a warrant.
Though WeChat parent company Tencent claimed they had no part in retrieving the deleted data, they explained that authorities were using technology “that helps users restore their own deleted conversations.”
“It is the same technology used to recover important files on computers,” the company declared. “WeChat does not store any chat histories. They are stored only on users’ phones, computers or other devices… We have neither the authority nor the motive to look into users’ chat histories.”
However, Business Insider claimed this “isn’t necessarily true,” noting the country’s cybersecurity law which forces companies “to store all network logs for at least six months, and store all user data on servers located in China.”
WeChat has been the center of attention in previous censorship debates, with reports revealing that images sent privately to friends can be blocked in transit.
In November, it was reported that Tencent had surpassed Facebook in worth, becoming the first Asian company to be valued at more than half a trillion dollars.