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World
09 Jun 2017

Chinese black market - Apple users' personal data on sale!

China: Apple employees sell customer data

Tech giant Apple's data protection is known to be the world's best.

Apple claims it has the "most effective security organization" and everything is so secure that users don't have to worry about anything.

However, shockingly, Chinese authorities uncovered a massive underground operation run by Apple staff who sold users' private data on the black market.

Know more about the Chinese Apple data-stealing syndicate!

In context

China: Apple employees sell customer data
Apple computer and phone users' data sold

Underground Operation

Apple computer and phone users' data sold

According to the Chinese authorities, the massive underground operation was run by Apple staff who sold both Apple computer and iPhone users' data.

They detained 22 people on suspicion of infringing users' privacy and illegally obtaining their digital private information.

Of the 22 suspects, 20 were employees of Apple; the data selling scam was worth over 50 million Yuan ($7.36 million).

Stolen Data

Was data stolen only from Chinese users?

The suspects were reportedly working for Apple as part of outsourced "direct sales and marketing".

They allegedly used Apple's internal systems to compromise personal information, including users' names, mobile numbers, Apple IDs and more.

While Apple is yet to comment on the issue, it has not been revealed whether the stolen information belonged solely to the Chinese Apple customers or international customers too.

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Selling off the illegally extracted data

Investigation

Selling off the illegally extracted data

After four months of investigation, the police arrested the 20 Apple employees after seizing their "criminal tools" and dismantling their online network.

They were arrested across more than four regions, including Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Fujian.

For selling off the stolen data, the Apple employees used to charge between 10 Yuan ($1.50) and 180 Yuan ($26.50) for pieces of the illegally gathered data.

Privacy scandal in Australia

This is not the first time data stealing is happening in China. In 2016, four Apple employees in Australia were fired following accusations of sharing "private" images from users' phones and rating them out of 10.

Cybersecurity Law

China's fresh controversial cybersecurity law

Experts say the sale of users' personal information in China is hardly a shocking development.

On 1 June, China implemented a "controversial" cybersecurity law, which the tech giants and large businesses operating there believe gives the domestic companies an unfair competitive advantage and help officials steal trade secrets from foreign firms.

Experts labeled the law as "extremely vague and exceptionally wide in scope."

Black market for private data. Scary!

In Dec'16, the South Metropolis Daily newspaper exposed the black market for personal information gathered from government and police databases. In exchange for 700 Yuan ($100), its reporters successfully obtained information on a colleague, including property holdings, hotel checkouts, and flight history.

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