Briefing: Dozens jailed for stealing 39 million pieces of personal data

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Now it’s personal: 32 jailed in China for stealing 39 million pieces of private data – South China Morning Post

What happened: More than 30 people have been jailed in China as part of a three-year nationwide investigation into a gang that traded nearly 39 million pieces of private data. The group was trading names, addresses, dates of birth, and ID and mobile numbers. The information was stolen by hacking personal computers as well as government departments. One of the leaders of the gang worked for a painting and decorating company in the southwestern city of Chongqing. He said he had been selling personal data since 2012.

Why it’s important: Despite government measures to control how personal data is handled and stored, data theft remains a significant issue in China. Not only is there a wealth of it—police across China processed more than 1,800 cases concerning 50 billion pieces of private information between March and June last year—it can also be cheap. Some cases involve data going for as little as RMB 0.10 (around $0.01) apiece. Data thieves have also become increasingly sophisticated in avoiding the police, forming complex networks across China and Southeast Asia to avoid arrest.