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    Shenzhen panopticon: The who's who of India were sitting ducks for a China tech company, reveals report

    Synopsis

    Apart from President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Narendra Modi, the Indian targets in the list include almost all other key Union ministers and chief ministers, the current and former chiefs of the armed forces, the chief justice and the CAG. Moreover, noted industry behemoths such as Tata and Adani are also being tracked.

    'China-based Zhenhua Data tracked over 10,000 Indians': All you need to know
    China seems to have something big in mind, and its recent feuds with multiple nations including the ongoing border standoff with India are perhaps just a small part of an overall big-game hunting, explosive findings from an investigation carried out by the Indian Express have revealed.

    More than 10,000 organisations and people in India are being actively monitored under a surveillance programme run by a tech company that has links to the Chinese Communist Party, according to the report.

    Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. Limited, a tech firm based in Shenzhen, is said to be keeping a tab on its targets in real time.

    Apart from President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Narendra Modi, the Indian targets in the list include almost all other key Union ministers and chief ministers, the current and former chiefs of the armed forces, the chief justice and the CAG. Moreover, noted industry behemoths such as Tata and Adani are also being tracked.

    Key bureaucrats, scientists, journalists, actors, and even top white-collar criminals from India feature in the list, the report said.

    Coming amid the heated face-off at the border, these revelations have the potential to sour India's ties with China even more.

    Revelations galore
    The Indian Express said that it got the info with the help of a "network of researchers from a source" with links to the Shenzhen-based firm. As per the report, while the source wanted to stay anonymous in view of the risks involved, the data was passed on to a Vietnam academic who had formerly worked in China.

    The professor, in turn, made the data available to a number of publications worldwide including The Indian Express, The Australian Financial Review, Il Foglio from Italy and The Daily Telegraph of London.

    The Indian Express said it had sent queries regarding the matter to the Shenzhen firm, but they went unanswered. The company has now taken its website down and its page is not accessible anymore.

    Chinese Embassy sources in Delhi denied the accusations, telling Indian Express that "China has not asked and will not ask companies or individuals to collect or provide data, information and intelligence stored within other countries’ territories."

    These sources declined comments on whether or not the Chinese Communist Party has any links with the company in question. Available records, however, show that the company has set up 20 processing centres at various places across the planet, and that the Chinese government and PLA are its clients, as per the report.

    Hybrid warfare
    This data mining is being seen as part of a hybrid warfare, which essentially means using non-military means to gain domination. According to the Indian Express report, in the company's own words, the means used in this kind of warfare are — "information pollution, perception management and propaganda."

    The investigators used big data to extract info on Indian targets from the meta data of Zhenhua's log files that were part of its Overseas Key Information Database (OKIDB), the report said. It added that OKIDB, with the aid of cutting-edge tools, tracks targets without leaving any explicit footprint.

    Targets in India are not the only ones in the company's sights. Many important individuals and organisations in various other countries including Australia, Britain and US are being locked on to as well. Many from Japan, Canada, Germany and UAE are also among the operation's targets.
    (Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

    47 Comments on this Story

    Sharad M7 days ago
    You cannot escape the world wide web. There is no fireproof firewall in today's network connected world.
    Baruun 7 days ago
    If this is true for then it has to be true for the entire world. It is wake up call for EU and others not to rely upon or hand over to Chinese tech giants the backbone of the electronic network. EU countries through Huwai Tencent Ali Baba and host of others are working as per grand pan basically face to show of. The Chinese electronic surveillance time bomb has already started ticking through networks. It is not sufficient that only Americans have woken up to the reality if EU and others fail to take a call the crucial data control may shift to Chinese hands for arm twisting.
    Narasimhan Bangalore7 days ago
    Snoozing is not restricted to Indians only,but it’s widespread inclusive of most of the world leaders in various fields! Experts in spying and lying! If any Olympic event is organised, then they earn not gold medal but diamond medal!
    The Economic Times