Spy-tech gadgets ranging from tracking devices to wiretapping bugs have been flying off Taobao’s e-shelves despite being declared illegal by the Chinese government, which is trying with all its might to shut down businesses selling the things.
Want China Times reports:
The devices have been widely used by private detectives in the country. One of them, surnamed Zhou, said detectives no longer follow their targets on foot but sit in their office, tracking the targets though the devices. His services include tracking a person’s location and investigating potential extramarital affairs with evidence such as recorded conversations and surveillance videos acquired from the devices […] Zhou said people can find and buy them on the internet but not all of the devices sold online are genuine.
While some vendors stopped selling the devices after authorities banned the production and distribution of wiretapping and hidden cameras on May 1, a number of sellers still offer the gadgets when clients request them, despite potential punishment of up to three years in jail.
Over thousands of the devices are still available on Taobao, China’s leading online marketplace, advertised as “theft or lost item prevention”, and can go for hundreds to thousands of yuan a piece.
The tracking devices have been sold in the guise of chargers, drink bottles, key chains, car accessories and fake phones, the report said, ensuring easy access for any, ahem, stay-at-home detective who damn well pleases to get his or her hands on them.