Government needs proof of foul play to probe China company's data mining

Report claims data firm linked to Chinese govt snooping on over 10,000 Indian VIPs

China monitoring over 10000 Indians including PM, President: Report

"It is clear that Zhenhua and the entities named on its website as "partners" are not merely contractors to the Ministry of State Security and the People's Liberation Army, but are in fact intrinsic parts of the broader state security and intelligence apparatus of the People's Republic of China", the intelligence source added.

This data has been prepared through social media profiles.

Experts, however, point out that up to 20 percent of the information could not be obtained through any open source, meaning it could be collected from the dark web or through hacking.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Tugendhat said: "This is a further indication that their interest in United Kingdom politics has gone beyond the general and into the specific".

The source, however, did not answer specific queries if the Chinese government and the military were clients of Zhenhua Data as claimed by the company, or to what goal the Chinese government used the OKIDB data, if it did. It has been monitoring individuals and organizations cut across varied fields including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many top political leaders besides bureaucrats in key positions, judges, scientists, academicians, journalists, religious figures, activists and even some include crime accused, the report said.

Conservative MP and frequent critic of the regime in Beijing, Bob Seely - who was also listed in the database - said: "China does not build databases on us, legally or not, for benign reasons or to know when to send birthday cards".

He had worked at the elite Peking University until 2018 when he fled over fears for his physical safety. It is impossible to take any punitive action in the given situation, but if necessary, the government is likely to ban more Chinese apps as well as companies.

"The threat of China as an authoritarian techno surveillance state is real and happening now", he said.

In his research paper, he said leaked information was the first direct evidence of data collected by China on its monitoring and data collection on foreign individuals and institutions for purposes of intelligence and influence operations.

Christopher Balding fled China after fears for his safety.

The information on file, they noted, could "provide China enormous benefit in opinion formation, targeting, and messaging" and could be used to create messages to appeal to specific individuals.

Why is the data being gathered?

The database appears to have been designed for "information warfare", the researchers found, and "attempting to influence the debate and narrative about China".

"The information warfare being touted by Zhenhua targets key institutions in democracies such as the children of politicians, universities, and key industrial sectors".

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