Zhenhua data leak: Govt sets up expert panel to study reports of China snooping on VIPs in India

The Government of India has constituted an expert committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study reports released earlier this week saying that a China-based company is mining data and snooping on hundreds of Indian politicians and leaders.
S Jaishankar
India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar

The Government of India has constituted an expert committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study reports released earlier this week saying that a China-based company is mining data and snooping on hundreds of Indian politicians and leaders, including the Prime Minister, President, Chief Justice of India and other chief ministers.

The panel will study these reports, evaluate their implications, assess any violations of law and submit its recommendations within 30 days.

“Government of India is deeply concerned with any report that suggests that foreign sources are accessing or seeking to access the personal data of our citizens without their consent. The government takes very seriously the protection of privacy and personal data of Indian citizens,” news agency ANI reported quoting sources.

The sources said that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has also raised the issue of Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. allegedly spying on prominent Indians with the Chinese Ambassador on Wednesday. China reportedly said that Zhenhua is a private company and has made clear its position publicly.

The decision about the constitution of the expert panel was communicated to Congress MP KC Venugopal by Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar in response to the former’s demands to protect the data of Indian leaders and others from spying by Chinese companies. Several other MPs raised this demand in the Parliament on Wednesday.

A Shenzen-based technology company with links to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party is keeping an eye on more than 10,000 Indians and organisations. The company calls itself a pioneer in using big data for ‘hybrid warfare’ and the ‘great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation’.

Meanwhile, China has reportedly taken down one of its website after a detailed questionnaire was sent to the email ID mentioned on contact section of the website.

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