Illegally obtaining personal information by theft, purchase or any other method will be regarded as a criminal act, China’s Ministry of Public Security has forcefully stated today.
The ministry made the announcement in response to a heated report by Southern Metropolis Daily released on December 12, which disclosed that some were using online platforms in the country, like Sina Weibo and Taobao, to sell hacking services and personal information.
Personal information could be purchased by category, or in an 11-type information package.
Within the 11-type package, personal information ranges from flight numbers, phone numbers, hotel check-in records to bank account transaction statements, which includes a person’s identification card number.
Buying this information package online cost about 700 yuan (about 101 USD), according to the report.
The reporter pointed out that the packages could be bought anytime, 24 hours a day, and on a global scale. Further, information bought online would be delivered in two days after purchase.
Held accountable for leaks
The perpetrators also offered services like tracking down one’s bank balances in one of China’s four major banks simply with ID numbers, and positioning one’s specific location within a few miles of accuracy with a phone number, both priced at 600 yuan per inquiry.
China launched its first Cyber Security Law in June of this year that identifies punishable offenders as, “their employers and platform operators will be held accountable for information leaks”.
Through a special operation about cracking down on internet infringement of citizens’ personal information since April, the Ministry of Public Security has cleared up 1,868 relevant cases, arrested 4,219 suspects, and seized 30.5 billion pieces of citizens’ personal information.
The ministry also announced they will extend the operation to the end of 2017, to clamp down on allegedly hacking, reselling, and illegal use of personal information in order to protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens from violation.