Four Chinese nationals were convicted last week of participating in a program that implanted malware into devices sold by Chinese smartphone maker Gionee.
The plan involved Xu Li, the legal representative of Shenzhen Zhipu Technology, a Gionee subsidiary that has taken over the sale of phones of the company and Zhu Ying, Jia Zhengqiang and Pan Qi, Deputy General Manager and Software Engineer for Beijing Baice Software Company.
According to court documents released last week by Chinese authorities, the two Companies signed a secret agreement at the end of 2018 to create a powerful software development kit (SDK) that would allow both parties to take the control of Gionee smartphones after πώληση to customers.
The SDK was introduced on Gionee smartphones by Shenzhen Zhipu Technology in the form of an update to the Story Lock Screen, a screen lock application that was pre-installed on Gionee devices.
However, Chinese officials said SDK acted maliciously and converted the infected Appliances into a robot, allowing both companies to control the phones of customers. Both companies used the SDK for viewing advertisements through the so-called "live pulling" function.
According to court documents, between December 2018 and October 2019, more than 20 million Gionee devices worldwide received more than 2,88 billion advertisements. The two companies earned more than 27,85 million Chinese yuan ($ 4,26 million).
The whole plan seems to have collapsed after a suspicious error began to rule out access on some Gionee phones, which led the parent company support staff to start research, which then led to information of the Chinese authorities.
All four were sentenced to 3 to 3,5 years in prison and fined 200.000 Chinese yuan ($ 30.500). Shenzhen Zhipu Technology also received a separate fine of 400.000 Chinese yuan ($ 61.000).