Government Databases Invite Privacy Abuse in China and the U.S.

As snoop-tastic as China’s regime is, it’s tempting to gloat a bit when the country suffers a massive data breach of its own that dwarfs the leaks it inflicts on other countries. But regular Chinese citizens have been compromised, not just the government officials who spy on their own people and hack into foreign databases. More remarkably, this is only one of many incidents that illustrate the dangers of the surveillance state’s appetite for gathering and hoarding sensitive information under any flag.

“A massive online database apparently containing the personal information of up to one billion Chinese citizens was left unsecured and publicly accessible for more than a year – until an anonymous user in a hacker forum offered to sell the data and brought it to wider attention last week,” CNN reported July 5.

That a massive treasure trove of personal details was placed online with minimal protection, reportedly by Shanghai’s police, makes an awful sort of sense. China’s regime has little regard for anybody’s privacy and is imposing an increasingly sophisticated surveillance-and-control state. Why wouldn’t officials prioritize their own ease of access over concerns about identity theft and the personal fallout from sticking data that includes criminal records online?

Then again, you’d think China’s officialdom might be a little more security-conscious given how much effort they expend on stealing other people’s data.

In May 2014, the U.S. Justice Department charged Chinese military hackers with spying on American corporations. Months later, news reports revealed that hackers working for the Chinese government penetrated U.S. government servers looking for information on federal employees.

In July 2020, the feds indicted more Chinese government hackers for their part in “a hacking campaign lasting more than 10 years to the present, targeting companies in countries with high technology industries, including the United States, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.” In September of the same year, the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency announced that hackers…