World

Apple staff suspected of selling users' data

22 detained in China for illegally extracting digital personal information

BEIJING The Chinese authorities said they have uncovered a massive underground operation run by Apple employees selling the personal data of computer and phone users.

Twenty-two people were detained on suspicion of infringing on individuals' privacy and illegally obtaining their digital personal information, according to a statement from the local police in Zhejiang province

Twenty of them were Apple employees who allegedly used the company's internal computer system to gather users' names, phone numbers, Apple IDs and other data, which they sold as part of a scam worth more than 50 million yuan (S$10 million).

The statement did not specify whether the data belonged to Chinese or foreign Apple customers.

Following months of investigation, the statement said, police across more than four provinces - Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Fujian - apprehended the suspects over last weekend, seizing their "criminal tools" and dismantling their online network.

The suspects, who worked in direct marketing and outsourcing for Apple in China, allegedly charged between 10 yuan and 180 yuan for pieces of the illegally extracted data.

The sale of personal information is common in China, which on June 1 implemented a controversial new cyber security law aimed at protecting the country's networks and private user information.

In December last year, an investigation by the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper exposed a black market for private data gathered from police and government databases. - AFP

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