China jails eight for selling newborns' personal data

SHANGHAI (AFP) - A Chinese court said on Friday (Feb 10) it had sentenced eight people to jail for selling the personal data of more than 5,000 newborns.

The eight - including two employed by the city of Shanghai - were handed prison sentences ranging from seven months to more than two years, Pudong New District People's Court said in a statement.

They also face fines of up to 5,000 yuan (S$1,032). The statement did not specify what the personal data was.

From 2014 to July of last year, an employee surnamed Han used the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention's network to access the personal data of newborn babies.

He sold that information to a worker surnamed Zhang at Shanghai's Huanpu district's centre for disease control, who then re-sold it to several other parties.

The final recipients had ties to educational institutions for pre-schoolers and firms that sold infant healthcare products.

According to the court, Han emailed Zhang with new information every two weeks, amassing approximately 200,000 pieces of data.

The sale of personal data is common in China.

In December, an investigation by the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper exposed a black market for personal data extracted from national police and government databases.

Reporters successfully obtained a trove of information about one colleague - including flight history, hotel checkouts and property holdings - in exchange for a payment of 700 yuan.