Chinese Company accused of collecting personal data of millions around world

Elias Hubbard
September 16, 2020

According to a report by The Guardian, a cybersecurity consultancy has reported that the data of about 250,000 people could be recovered from the leaked dataset. It is being told that Zhenhua Data Information Technology was collecting military and intelligence information from countries around the world.

The list of figures in the United Kingdom that were swept up in the Chinese dragnet includes Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, and members of the Royal Family, including Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles, and the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex, Prince William and Kate Middleton. The report estimated that some 2 million people worldwide were caught up in the Chinese surveillance scheme.

Sources said that while many companies collect personal data of similar nature by scraping open source platforms, given that this involves a Chinese firm which works with the military and security agencies, the government is concerned about the end use and the end user.

Australian Cyber Security Cooperative Research Centre chief executive Rachael Falk said the exposure of this database should act as a wake-up call to all internet users that the photos, comments, and personal information they put online could be used against them like "one global trash and treasure".

"This allowed for a wide variety of relationship and key person targeting".

However, experts argued that up to 20 percent of the data could not be found through an open source, which means it may have been collected from the dark web or through hacking.

"The database included large amounts of public sector employee records", the researchers found.

A huge range of people were listed in China Revival's database, from politicians and political aides to celebrities, billionaires, journalists, and military personnel. "The breadth of data capture was quite extensive". The database included their dates of birth, addresses, marital status, social media handles, photographs, political associations, and more.

Conservative MP and frequent critic of the regime in Beijing, Bob Seely - who was also listed in the database - said: "China does not build databases on us, legally or not, for benign reasons or to know when to send birthday cards". "They are mining data of people who have a say in governance".

"What I would like to point out is that the Chinese government has been asking Chinese companies to strictly abide by local laws and regulations when doing business overseas; this position will not change", the Embassy source said.

President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi and their families are among the key individuals of India being tracked by Zhenhua.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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