Fri, Jun 09, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Chinese Apple staff suspected of selling users’ private data

AFP, BEIJING

Chinese authorities say they have uncovered a massive underground operation run by Apple Inc employees selling computer and smartphone users’ personal data.

Twenty-two people have been detained on suspicion of infringing individuals’ privacy and illegally obtaining their digital personal information, police in Zhejiang Province said in a statement on Wednesday.

Of the 22 suspects, 20 were Apple employees who allegedly used the company’s internal computer system to gather users’ names, telephone numbers, Apple IDs and other data, which they sold as part of a scam worth more than 50 million yuan (US$7.36 million).

The statement did not specify whether the data belonged to Chinese or foreign Apple customers.

Following months of investigation, police across more than four provinces — Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Fujian — apprehended the suspects over the weekend, seizing their “criminal tools” and dismantling their online network, the statement said.

The suspects, who worked in direct marketing and outsourcing for Apple in China, allegedly charged between 10 yuan and 180 yuan for pieces of the illegally extracted data, it said.

The sale of personal information is common in China, which implemented on Thursday last week a controversial new cybersecurity law aimed at protecting the nation’s networks and private user information.

In December last year, an investigation by the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper exposed a black market for private data gathered from police and government databases.

Reporters successfully obtained a trove of material on one colleague — including flight history, hotel checkouts and property holdings — in exchange for a payment of 700 yuan.

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