Zhenhua Data leak: personal details of millions around world gathered by China tech company

Of note – the broad and extensive reach (one of the better articles). Would be wonderful to see the Canadian list to see how far it extends:

The personal details of millions of people around the world have been swept up in a database compiled by a Chinese tech company with reported links to the country’s military and intelligence networks, according to a trove of leaked data.

About 2.4 million people are included in the database, assembled mostly based on public open-source data such as social media profiles, analysts said. It was compiled by Zhenhua Data, based in the south-eastern Chinese city of Shenzhen.

Internet 2.0, a cybersecurity consultancy based in Canberra whose customers include the US and Australian governments, said it had been able to recover the records of about 250,000 people from the leaked dataset, including about 52,000 Americans, 35,000 Australians and nearly 10,000 Britons. They include politicians, such as prime ministers Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison and their relatives, the royal family, celebrities and military figures.

When contacted by the Guardian for comment, a representative of Zhenhua said: “The report is seriously untrue.”

“Our data are all public data on the internet. We do not collect data. This is just a data integration. Our business model and partners are our trade secrets. There is no database of 2 million people,” said the representative surnamed Sun, who identified herself as head of business.

“We are a private company,” she said, denying any links to the Chinese government or military. “Our customers are research organisations and business groups.”

The database was leaked to American academic Christopher Balding, who was previously based in Shenzhen but has returned to the US because of security concerns. He shared the data with Internet 2.0 for recovery and analysis. The findings were first published on Monday by a consortium of media outlets including the Australian Financial Review and the Daily Telegraph in the UK.

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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