2 held over Baidu personal info leak

Zha Minjie reports in The Shanghai Daily:

Shanghai police said yesterday that two suspects have been caught for allegedly revealing online the personal information of more than 1,700 local apartment owners in a residential complex in the Pudong New Area.

Access to the leaked data has now been blocked from Baidu’s database, according to police. Before the blocking, netizens were able to access the information simply by typing the name of the complex on the website, police said.

It is the second time this year information has been leaked on the same website, raising concerns over privacy in the cyber world.

The information, including names, phone numbers and addresses, was first found online in June, police said.

Soon into the investigation, a suspect surnamed Yuan was caught, police said. Yuan, who was then in the insurance business, bought the information for 150 yuan (US$23.20) from a vendor near to a Metro station.

“I uploaded the information to exchange it for more similar property owner files in other complexes,” Yuan said.

According to the website’s regulation, the exchange is completed by uploading and downloading related information privately. But other users could still see the information. The seller of the personal data, surnamed Hua, was later arrested by police.

Hua said he got the files from a real estate agency which has a huge amount of such information. He paid 3,000 yuan for a memory drive that contained the files.

Are they being arrested for selling real estate records that over here, are considered public records? I am always interested in how differently some types of information or situations are treated elsewhere. Can you imagine if data aggregators here were arrested for selling such information? Wow…

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