Fake work attendance app for Alibaba’s office tool DingTalk lands developer in prison for five-and-a-half years
- Beijing Deniu Technology CEO Zhang Chaojie was convicted of ‘sabotaging computer systems’ for apps that spoofed location and Wi-Fi data
- The executive argued that allowing some workers to check in late ‘isn’t very serious’, and said the apps do more than just fake GPS coordinates
The chief executive of a Beijing-based app developer was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in prison for helping tens of thousands of users fabricate attendance records on enterprise collaboration platforms, according to an April court verdict published last month.
The People’s Court of Haidian District in Beijing ruled that Zhang Chaojie, whose company operated apps that faked location, Wi-Fi and photo data, was convicted of “sabotaging computer systems”.
Alibaba is the owner of the South China Morning Post.
By the time Daniu Zhushou was removed from app stores, it had been downloaded more than 100,000 times. Using the app required a subscription of 25 yuan (US$3.9) per month or 89 yuan per year, after a 12-hour free trial, allowing the app to pull in 4 million to 5 million yuan in total revenue, according to the published verdict.
Zhang and his lawyer argued that the app was not meant to cheat DingTalk and did more than just GPS location spoofing. They also said it only helped “certain employees show up late or get off early, which isn’t very serious”, according to the verdict.
Office apps exploded in use during the Covid-19 pandemic, as people were forced to work remotely. This year, employees have largely returned to office work in China, which has maintained strict quarantine rules and border controls to manage the spread of the virus.