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Apple iPhone Data Theft Tests China’s New Cybersecurity Law

In China, iPhone users’ information is highly prized on the black market because of the belief they are more affluent. PHOTO: WANG GANG/ZUMA PRESS

In China, iPhone users’ information is highly prized on the black market because of the belief they are more affluent. PHOTO: WANG GANG/ZUMA PRESS

Foreign technology companies said they were uncertain how the new law would affect their operations.

BEIJING—A week after China’s first cybersecurity law took effect, an investigation over the alleged theft and sale of iPhone users’ information looked set to test how well Apple Inc. AAPL 0.60% and other companies protect Chinese citizens’ personal data.

Police in eastern China said they had detained 22 people, including 20 from Apple “direct sales outlets” in China and companies Apple outsources services to. Police said those detained had used Apple’s internal system to illegally obtain information associated with iPhone products like phone numbers, names and Apple IDs, and then sold the information.

A statement by police in Cangnan county in Zhejiang province gave no further information on the Apple outlets involved, or details on the two other people detained. Calls to the police’s news department went unanswered.

The statement said the 22, who were detained May 3, charged from 10 yuan ($1.50) to 180 yuan for each piece of information and that the total amount of money involved was over 50 million yuan.

An Apple spokeswoman in China didn’t respond to a request for comment.

China has long struggled to rein in a robust black market in personal information, prompting one political activist last year to purchase and publish in a form of protest the private data of several Chinese tech CEOs, including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.co-founder Jack Ma. The activist showed evidence of one vendor offering to sell personal information ostensibly belonging to Chinese President Xi Jinping for 1,000 yuan.

A core aim of the cybersecurity law is to better protect individuals’ private data, authorities have said … (read more)

via WSJ

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