MEA raises Zhenhua data leak issue with Chinese Envoy

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) today raised the issue of alleged spying carried out by Chinese company Zhenhua Data Information Technology with the Chinese Ambassador. As per a recent media report, the company has allegedly been spying on prominent Indians.

China said Zhenhua is a private company and stated its position publicly.

Sources said the government is deeply concerned with any report that suggests foreign sources are accessing or seeking to access personal data of Indian citizens without their consent.

The government has also constituted an expert committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study these reports, evaluate their implications, assess any violations of law and submit its recommendations within 30 days.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar is learnt to have communicated this decision to Congress MP KC Venugopal in response to demands from him and other MPs for protecting data of Indian leaders and others from spying by Chinese companies.

Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said, “I noticed the company’s response that the report is seriously untrue. The company said clearly that it is a private company, and its clients are research institutions and business groups. Instead of collecting data, it only mobilizes data, which is open and available online.”

He said China opposes and fights all cyber crimes. “We would like to enhance dialogue and cooperation with other countries to jointly build a peaceful, secure, open and cooperative cyber space,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Congress members in Rajya Sabha expressed concern over a media report that suggested tracking of over 10,000 prominent Indian individuals and organisations by the Chinese company and asked the government whether it has taken note of the matter.

After the issue was raised by two Congress members, KC Venugopal and Rajiv Satav, during the Zero Hour, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu asked the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs to take note of it and inform the minister concerned.

“I would like to invite the attention of this House through you Chairman, a shocking news which is related to national security and privacy of Indian citizens,” Venugopal said. He said the Indian Express has reported that a Shenzen-based technology company with links to the Chinese government, and the Chinese Communist Party, is tracking over 10,000 Indian individuals and organisations in its global data base of foreign targets.

“This includes…very shocking, the President of India also you the Vice-President of India, the Prime Minister of India and the opposition leaders, including Congress President, Chief Ministers, MPs, army chief, and industrialists,” Venugopal said.

The Chinese company has also collected the data base of bureaucrats in key positions, judges, scientists, academicians, journalists, actors, sportspersons, religious figures and activists, he added.

(With inputs from PTI)

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Source – India Today