A Chinese list containing personal information of 2.4 million people was released. There are 710 Hungarians whose data and the data of their relatives are also on the list. Who are they? What does China want to do with it?
A mysterious list was released to the public in September, containing personal information about 2.4 million people and organisations.
Such an enormous list of people’s personal information is unprecedented. The list was assembled by a Chinese corporation called Shenzhen Zhenhua Data Information Technology, known to have ties to the Chinese government and military.
The list contains 710 Hungarian names, and Szabad Európa was able to identify 393. Most of the people on the list are politicians, but it also includes data of diplomats, judges, police captains, and even state companies and their employees. China was apparently also interested in certain Hungarian state assets, as many are included in the list.
Most of the data belongs to current or former parliament members and their family members. For example, the children of Viktor Orbán, Antal Rogán, and Lajos Kósa are all on the list. There are several state-owned companies listed also, including the Central Hungarian Bank, the Hungarian National Asset Management Inc., and MÁV-START Ltd. Basically, anyone with some influence in the country, including judges, office captains, and clergyman, seem to be of interest to China.
What kind of data?
Besides names, the list also includes a portrait photo or link to their social media, status (active or inactive), gender, and in some cases a short summary of their professional background, assigned to each name on the list.
Most of this data has probably been gathered by algorithms. Most, but not all, of the information is available from online public sources like LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as websites like Crunchbase and Factiva.
What can they use the data for?
Péter Tálas from the University of Public Service, Centre for Strategic and Defence Studies, told Szabad Európa:
“Information about foreigners is a huge advantage not only in terms of foreign and security policy but also regarding the economy. If they have information about people’s families, it is an even greater advantage. When it comes to people of influence and decision-makers, the information everyone is trying to gather is all about who is connected to whom, what their weaknesses are, how they can be influenced, and how they can be blackmailed.”