BEIJING, Apr. 26 (Xinhuanet) — Police across the country have arrested more than 1,700 people on suspicion of stealing or misusing personal information, according to the Ministry of Public Security. Police in 20 provincial-level regions, uncovered 38 operations where personal details were being illegally traded.

In the first-ever crackdown of its kind, 611 companies that illicitly conducted surveys were closed, and 161 unauthorized databases were destroyed.  On the basis of evidence collected, the ministry found that some employees of financial institutions, telecommunication companies or other organizations with massive personal databases, were selling on consumers’ personal information.  Criminals were trading information online under false identities and were able to quickly destroy evidence, so it was difficult to track them down, the ministry statement said.   The use of personal information in telecom fraud, kidnapping and forceful debt collection was on the increase.

China still lacks legal frameworks concerning the protection of private information and the handling of public sector information.  No doubt following the recent incidents changes will be forthcoming.  Such development would be much in the public and the information industry’s interest.