Friday 25 September 2020

MPs, business leaders and children: some 700 Dutch names are included on Chinese database

Illustration: Depositphotos.comintern

The names of 700 Dutch nationals, including politicians and their family members, businessmen and royalty, are in a database put together by a Chinese company and which contains 2.4 million people, the NRC said on Wednesday.

The list was compiled by Chinese tech company Zhenhua Data, and was obtained by an Australian cyber security company named Internet 2.0 via American academic Christopher Balding, who used to teach in China.

Most of the information is based on public open-source data such as social media profiles and corporate websites, analysts said. Nevertheless, Robert Potter, co-founder of Internet 2.0, told the Guardian the database was ‘ambitious’ in scope and could be ‘hugely valuable’ to an intelligence organisation.

The Dutch listings include the nine-year-old daughter of a prominent MP, start-up tzar prince Constantijn, ministers and the sister of Labour party leader Lodewijk Asscher.

‘It would appear that the compilers wanted to map out how decisions are taken in a country,’ Internet 2.0’s other cofounder David Robinson, told the NRC. ‘They have collected information about people active in politics, public office, the tech sector and other important companies. And then they have gone looking for family members.’

A Zhenhua spokeswoman told the Guardian that all its data is in the public domain. ‘This is just a data integration. Our business model and partners are our trade secrets. There is no database of 2 million people,’ she said. ‘Our customers are research organisations and business groups.’

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