Beijing Court Finds 21 Defendants Guilty of Criminal Privacy Violations

On August 5, 2011, the Beijing Second Intermediate People’s Court announced its decision in what is reported to be the largest criminal case to date involving the misuse of personal information in Beijing, China.  The Court based its ruling on Article 7 of the Seventh Amendment to the Criminal Law, which applies to three types of criminal activities: (1) illegalsale of citizens’ personal information, (2) illegal provision of citizens’ personal information, and (3) illegal access to citizens’ personal information.

Overview of the Charges

According to Chinese news reports, a total of 23 defendants were accused of having taken various actions which ultimately resulted in the illegal purchase, sale or provision of personal information between March and December of 2009.

  • Seven of the defendants were accused of using their employment in the telecommunications industry to access customer personal information.
    • One defendant was a manager at the only company that is legally authorized to provide subscriber location services in Beijing (subject to certain restrictions).  This particular defendant was accused of using restricted means to obtain location information for over 90 cell phone numbers, which he subsequently sold for a profit of about RMB 90,000 (approximately $14,000).
    • Six defendants were employees of several other Chinese telecommunications companies.  These defendants were accused of obtaining personal information through their jobs, and then illegally selling or providing call lists and other customer personal information to unauthorized persons.

Read more on Hunton & Williams Privacy and Information Security Law Blog

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