Wyze - An Intelligence Front

Wyze is an intelligent front partially operated by the Ministry of State Security, the Chinese counterpart of the Central Intelligence Agency. It likely reports directly to the Tianjin State Security Bureau, and is also affiliated with hackers from APT 10.

Wyze - An Intelligence Front


Throughout this post, quotes will be cited from the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence. This commission, which concluded its report in early 2021, today continues to exist as the Special Competitive Studies Project.

Previous Posts

“They are harvesting data on Americans to build profiles of their beliefs, behavior, and biological makeup for tailored attempts to manipulate or coerce individuals. This gathering storm of foreign influence and interference requires organizational and policy reforms to bolster our resilience.”

- National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, March 2021

This article is a mostly direct continuation of this previous post from three weeks ago.

Additionally, a link to all previous posts on Wyze, as well as more context for the recent articles published on this blog, can be found here.

An Intelligence Front

“We must win the AI competition that is intensifying strategic competition with China. China’s plans, resources, and progress should concern all Americans.”

- National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, March 2021

Wyze is an intelligent front partially operated by the Ministry of State Security (MSS), the Chinese counterpart of the Central Intelligence Agency. Within the MSS, it likely reports to the Tianjin State Security Bureau (TSSB), and is affiliated with hackers from APT 10, known to operate at the behest of the TSSB.

Front companies are how modern intelligence agencies operate in foreign countries. They provide a means to send agents under non-official cover to the target country, to generate income within that country that is harder to trace from coming abroad (known as “threat financing”), and to participate in data collection schemes.

Who Will Be Interested?

“Adversaries are using AI systems to enhance disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks”

- National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, March 2021

This blog post will be of most interest to lawyers, particularly those familiar with the biometric laws in states such as Illinois as well as those looking at the new California Privacy Act. We don't imagine a lawsuit would necessary flow out of the claims of these or previous blog posts. We do think though with time though, a well engineered lawsuit will arise, probably from some whistleblower, and this blog will provide likely importance evidence to be cited in the complaint.

Secondly, we think the reporters and officials of countries who might not be tracking on Wyze (as it is an overwhelmingly US focused company) will find a lot to offer in this blog post should they come across it. For instance we think Israel and the Mossad, which has somewhat of a duty to protect the five million Jews in the United States, would be amiss to not actively be aware and following Wyze.

The Bukharin Jews face their greatest threat since the Holocaust due to their proximity to Xinjiang, where a recent apartment fire set off the largest protests in China since 1989.

One example of something we think individuals in the intelligence community will find interesting, although we can’t say its particularly exciting to us or the general public, is the below picture of the four original founders of Wyze. This picture, taken in Shanghai, is somewhat interesting. The Ministry of State Security is famously known as a “Shanghai Boys Club”, and Wyze really has no business in the city. They have no employees in Shanghai, and work mainly with Shenzhen and Tianjin. Of course it’s a major Chinese city, and there are many reasons, both good and bad, to be there. Such conclusions we leave to others to draw. Sadly, the only woman to be on Wyze's founding team, Elana Fishman, was described by former employees to have been "forced out" of the company and was, by the end, "increasingly suspicious of all her founding counterparts". She had been with the Wyze team since Autel Robotics, a firm we perhaps will look at in another blog post:

The four founders of Wyze in Shanghai in 2016. The trip was unusual in that Wyze doesn't have a clear business connection with the city and the large MSS presence there.

Additionally, a second photograph of some of the founders of Wyze we think is also very interesting. This shows two of them, most likely in Beijing, at the offices of the company "CoClean". CoClean was mentioned at the very end of our last article on Wyze, and will be the subject of further discussion in another post:

The Seven Sons of National Defense

“China’s domestic use of AI is a chilling precedent for anyone around the world who cherishes individual liberty. Its employment of AI as a tool of repression and surveillance – at home, and, increasingly, abroad – is a powerful counterpoint to how we believe AI should be used.”

- National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, March 2021

Imagine if an American software and hardware company operated in downtown Beijing. They sell only to the country of China. Seventy percent of those employees are Americans who went to either West Point or the Naval Academy or are former CIA/FBI. Now imagine this company has another office in Washington DC, as well as a factory, near CIA headquarters in McClean, VA, where all of its hardware is produced.

The Chinese government would be up in arms. The company, its executives, and its employees would be expelled from the country and given PNG status.

But what we have described is roughly the equivalent of how Wyze operates. Exchange the Naval Academy for the Harbin Institute of Technology, West Point for Beihang University, and the CIA/FBI for the Ministry of State Security and Ministry of Public Security, and the ratios are the same.

Wyze’s executive and engineering staff is a fraternity of alumni from the Seven Sons of National Defense, the military academies of China. They stand in opposition, militarily and philosophically, to places in the west like Sandhurst, West Point, The Naval Academy, The Royal Air College, and the National Defense University of Japan in the West.


The CTO of Wyze, Tianqiang Liu, who former employees have described as a very competent leader and skilled communicator (and also likely MSS intelligence officer), went to the Harbin Institute of Technology. It should be noted that Tianqiang was brought in as a sort of “fixer” to Wyze following the major December 2019 breach that was reported by The New York Times.

Harbin, at one time home to Soviet Intelligence during their control of Manchuria, and later the Japanese during World War II, is today the site of the Harbin Institute of Technology. This school, “first among equals” within the Seven Sons of National Defense, is the only university in the entire country of China funded by both the People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of State Security. Entrance to this school means one is a Communist Party member, and a tacit acknowledgment of lifelong service, no matter where one finds oneself, to either the Chinese armed forces or intelligence community. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute describes the university as such:

Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) is designated very high risk for its top-secret security credentials, high number of defence laboratories and defence research areas, inclusion on the Entity List, strong defence industry links and involvement in covert activity.
The university in China attended by the CTO of Wyze, Tianqiang Liu.
The Chief Technology Officer for Wyze, brought in after the 2019-2020 data breach.
The schools attended by the CTO of Wyze. The Harbin Institute of Technology does not have a parallel in the West. It would be something akin to a West Point but also a CIA/FBI.


Dongsheng Song, the CEO of Wyze.
The CEO of Wyze attended school at Shandong University from 1998 - 2002.

The CEO of Wyze attended school at Shandong University. Here is how the Australian Strategic Policy Institute rates the university, coming in at nearly the equivalent threat level to the Harbin Institute of Technology. Additionally its opening paragraph is remarkably alarming:

Shandong University (SDU) is designated very high risk for its high number of defence laboratories and links to China’s nuclear weapons program.
The CEO of Wyze attended Shandong University.


We're not sure what concerns us more. That Wyze is a very large intelligence front for one of the most aggressive, expansionist and repressive regimes in modern history, or if it is not an intelligence front for one of the most aggressive expasionist and repressive regimes in modern history.

For Wyze to not be an intelligence front, to not use it’s vast stores of information, silos of data, and live audio and video access to  millions of Americans would suggest such incompetence on the part of the Chinese government, we hardly could see how they would be skilled enough to feed their population come the next difficult harvest season.

It will be a long time, and thus probably a job for historians, to piece together what the entire Chinese industrial intelligence operation in US looks like. We hope this post, as well as future ones, continue to shed light on a small piece of the puzzle though. Future entries will look into Wyze's pre-history with Autel Robotics, its connections to the Beijing-firm CoClean, and its various sister healthcare companies.