(Yicai Global) Nov. 30 -- With the rise of the internet, a complete industrial chain of theft and sale of personal information has flourished. A case of infringement of citizens' personal information cracked by Chinese police, involving 25 provinces and more than 100 suspects, has recently entered the trial process and has put a spotlight on it. Experts stress the urgent need to improve the relevant laws and policies and increase supervision to curb this growing issue.
When investigating a case of infringement on personal information of citizens in 2015, police in China’s northeastern Liaoning province found substantial clues about crimes of selling citizens' personal information across the country. At present, 18 cases and 63 defendants in the series of cases are subject to review of the courts within the jurisdiction of Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province. Police found traffic police, bank staff, telecom personnel, courier staff have become the main source of information leakage.
A defendant surnamed Xu, who is currently in custody, was previously a teller of the Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. [SHA:601288] Ganzhou branch in Southeast China's Jiangxi province. He sold customers’ bank card numbers, balance and other information for CNY60 (USD9) to CNY90 apiece.
"These criminal gangs consist of multiple levels including collectors, first-level agents, second-level agents, downstream agents and customers," said Jia Minfei, deputy chief judge of the criminal court of Shenyang Intermediate People's Court. The gangs illegally provided and obtained citizens’ personal information through social media platforms.
"Generally, there was no direct contact among them in the chain, and all were conducted online,” the judge in the case told Yicai Global.
Information subject to theft covers almost all the personal information of citizens, such as vehicle, travel and bank account information. The thieves are relatively independent and provide cross-over services to agents. The information exchanges between agents are more frequent, forming a black trading platform colluding with each other.
The social harm caused by the crimes of infringement of citizens’ personal information has become increasingly wide-spread. The case investigators believe that in order to curb such crimes, relevant units and enterprises possessing citizens’ Big Data should strengthen management and enhance supervision, and regulators should strengthen inspection and rectification of the network service providers who have problems to promptly rectify various hidden dangers and prevent them at the source.
"Leaking citizens’ personal information is not a technical issue, but an attitude and a management issue," said Chen Baolong, a member of Liaoning Lawyers Association. It requires tightening the legislation, Chen suggests. No matter what kind of unit or department, those institutions which leak information should bear the responsibility. In the long run, industry information security management and regulation need to tighten loopholes that pave the way for such leakage. Raising public awareness to develop behavioral habits in protecting personal information and privacy is another preventive measure, says Chen.