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Celebrity Health: CHINA VOICES | Who’s at fault in celebrity health code hack?

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Celebrity Health: CHINA VOICES | Who’s at fault in celebrity health code hack?

Celebrity Health:

A security guard checks health code outside a compound in Suzhou. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

Whose fault is a major data leak from Beijing’s “health code” digital quarantine system? Is it leaky digital platforms, or crazy fans? Commentators have blamed both.

With COVID-19 measures driving the collection of even more personal data, privacy leaks seem to become more frequent and worrying. Multiple leaks of coronavirus patients’ names, home addresses, jobs, phone numbers, and other personal information happened throughout 2020, triggering heated debate on Chinese internet.

In late December, Hongxing News, a digital subsidiary of Chengdu Economic Daily, reported that celebrities’ photos for Beijing’s health code, called Jiankangbao—usually casually-snapped selfies used for facial verification—and the methods to access the photos were being massively traded in WeChat groups. According to the article (in Chinese) and attached screenshots, the price of a bundle including more than 70 celebrities’ headshots is  RMB 2 ($0.30). TechNode has not been able to independently verify the screenshots.

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Jason Xue is a student in Journalism at The University of Hong Kong focusing on technology and financial coverage. He has had internship experiences at Reuters and Caixin.

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