China cuffs ten white-hats, nobody knows why

Did respectable researchers overstep the mark? Your theory welcome, Sinophiles


China is apparently cracking down on white-hats, with local reports saying the founder of a 5,000-strong ethical hacker community has been arrested.

The reports first emerged on Chinese-language site Caixinwang and were picked up by the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP).

The latter outlet report names Fang Xaiodun, founder of a group called Wooyun, as one of ten senior members of the group arrested sometime around July 22, less than a fortnight after the group held its annual convention in Beijing.

Wooyun only disclosed vulnerabilities if they were unable to get a response in private. It was regarded well enough to attract high-profile, public sponsorship for its convention on July 8 and 9: for example, a Chinese Wi-Fi hotspot provider called "exands" used the confab to show off secure Wi-Fi services.

Xaiodun hasn't made any posts to his WeChat account since July 18, and Wooyun's Website has been suspended since July 20. HKFP says Caixinwang's report suggests the group took the site down itself as a precaution, rather than in response to censorship.

With no official statement yet about the arrest, there's only speculation about the reasons – whether Wooyun had knocked on the door of government networks without permission, for example.

The Internet Society of China's legal consultant Zhao Zhanling told HKFP the Wooyun site was used only as the disclosure platform. ®

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