Zhenhua data leak: Govt sets up expert panel to study reports of China snooping on VIPs
New Delhi, Sep 17: The Government on Wednesday constituted an expert committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study reports released earlier this week saying that a China-based company is mining data and snooping on hundreds of Indian politicians and leaders, including the Prime Minister, President, Chief Justice of India and other chief ministers.
The expert group will study these reports, evaluate their implications, assess any violations of law and submit its recommendations within 30 days.
"The Government of India takes very seriously the protection of privacy and personal data of Indian citizens. The government has constituted an expert committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study these reports, evaluate their implications, assess any violations of law and submit its recommendations within 30 days," a source told ANI.
The decision about the constitution of the expert panel was communicated to Congress MP KC Venugopal by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar in response to the former's demands to protect the data of Indian leaders and others from spying by Chinese companies. Several other MPs raised this demand in the Parliament on Wednesday.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) also raised the issue of alleged spying carried out by China-based company Zhenhua Data Information Technology with the Chinese Ambassador. As per a recent media report, the company has allegedly been spying on prominent Indians. China reportedly said that Zhenhua is a private company and has made clear its position publicly.
A report in the Indian Express claimed that the range of targets in India identified and monitored in real time by Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. Limited was "sweeping" and included President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress'' interim president Sonia Gandhi, and their families, as well as several chief ministers, among others.
Earlier on Monday, the Congress urged the government to step up its efforts on cyber security for confronting China's intentions in the cyber space after a media report claimed that a Shenzen-based firm with links to the Chinese government is monitoring over 10,000 Indian individuals and organisations in its global database of "foreign targets".