Four young Chinese detained for illegally selling stars’ private information
Published: Dec 08, 2021 03:48 AM
Handcuffs Photo: CFP

Handcuffs Photo: CFP

Four young Chinese were detained for allegedly selling the private information of stars including Xiao Zhan and Jackson Wang without their permission, according to a statement issued by a police bureau based in Hangzhou, East China's Zhejiang Province.

Media reported on Tuesday that the police bureau recently closed the case concerning the four criminal suspects illegal activities - selling celebrities' flight information over a three-month period. Two of them were in their mid-20s, while the other two were under 20. 

The gang obtained the information through illegal means and then entered the celebrities' information such as their ID number into the self-service check-in machines at the airport to obtain the flight information for hundreds of celebrities, including Xiao Zhan and Jackson Wang. They later sold this information to fan clubs and fan groups for less than about 100 yuan ($15) per star. 

The gang also sold "send off tickets" which could allow fans to enter the waiting hall at airports to see their idols there. With this ticket, fans could wait for a celebrity at the check-in gate and get closer to the celebrity for a longer meeting time.
Daqi (pseudonym), an insider in entertainment and fan circles, told the Global Times that information about many celebrities is often leaked out by employees working at airports, creating a gray market in which they sell information to ravenous fans. Some studios of stars who are not that popular may also "leak" information to attract more fans, but studios of popular superstars done dare do this out of fear of causing disorder at airports.

It is not rare in China to see news reports about flights being delayed due to the chaos caused by fans who are looking to catch a glimpse of a star. 

While selling information for dozens of yuan may not seem to be a big deal for fans, they must realize that this behavior violates the law.

Yan Yiming, a Shanghai-based lawyer, told the Global Times that both China's Personal Information Protection Law and Civil Code stipulate that no organization or individual may illegally collect, use, process, transmit, trade or provide the personal information of others; and must not engage in personal information processing activities that endanger national security or the public interest.

"Illegal access to a star's flight information infringes on a citizens' personal information," he said, adding that according to China's Criminal Law the punishment for serious infractions is three to seven years in prison.

Ma Mingzhi, a lawyer specialized in personal privacy, told the Global Times that leaking information is not only a profitable business in fan circles, but other fields as well.

"Currently, punishments only apply to personnel not the company where they work. Many employees working at the airport are involved in this gray market, so if the punishment is expanded to units or companies like the airline, then this may reduce cases as companies take more measures to protect information," he said.