Apple may be facing serious privacy issues in regard to it’s customers private data. Police in China have arrested 22 people they suspect to be selling the personal data of an unspecified amount of Apple customers. The incident occurred in Cangnan County in the eastern part of Zhejiang, and according to the police the distributers of this data have made approximately 50 million renminbi, about $7.3 million selling the customer’s data.
The police have stated that the Apple employees had illegally acquired the personal data of their customers through an unknown means and had been selling them to hackers and scammers to make a profit. The data included the names, phone numbers, and Apple identification numbers of the customers, it is currently unknown if the thieves also had access to the customers financial information or passwords.
Apple products are one of the most widely sold products in China and because of the incident, police are now encouraging consumers to be more cautious when purchasing Apple products. 20 of the 22 suspects arrested work at official Apple stores in China, police have not disclosed any further information about the two suspects who do not.
Police say that these arrests are only part of a much larger problem in China, where cybercrime is becoming a big issue as more and more people use the internet to satisfy their consumer needs, such as online shopping, online banking, and even online gaming. Internet hackers and scammers have begun to run rampant in China using malware campaigns to steal people’s information. In the previous years, China has tried hundreds of cases involving hacking the personal data of others, in 2015 approximately 176 cases involving stealing private data were reported, since then cases have risen to an alarming 361 cases tried in 2016.
Xie Yongjiang, associate director for the Institute Governance and Law at the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications had this to say regarding the privacy issue in China, “It is very common. Every one of us could fall for it, for example after your child is born at a hospital, someone will phone you and ask if you need baby products. When your child turns 3, someone will phone you and ask if their child would go to their nursery school. You have no idea who exposed your personal data.”
The problem with cybercrime in China is nothing new to Apple either, in 2016 10 employees of Apple were also found distributing the data of more than 80,000 users. Police have been taking precautions to prevent further theft of personal data from happening, and hopes that with further action they can stop cybercrime in China.