Shanghai data breach exposes dangers of China’s trove


Chinese policemen patrol the bund area, on June 1, 2022, in Shanghai. Hackers claim to have obtained a trove of data on one billion Chinese from a Shanghai police database in a leak that, if confirmed, could be one of the largest data breaches in history. — AP

Claims of the largest cyberattack in Chinese history have sparked an open debate about the extent to which Beijing hoovers up personal data and uses private firms to safeguard that trove, a discussion that could have ramifications for the broader technology industry in China.

If verified, the purported theft of 23 terabytes of personal information on as many as a billion Chinese citizens from a Shanghai police database would rank as the country’s largest ever known data breach, if not one of the biggest leaks the world has seen. The allegations that emerged over the weekend have set tech circles buzzing and prompted rare public comment from high-profile industry figures such as Binance co-founder Zhao Changpeng.

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