Shanghai police have arrested a foreign couple for illegally obtaining information that infringed upon the privacy of Chinese citizens. This is the first case of foreigners being arrested for privacy infringement in China.
57-year-old Peter Humphrey, from Britain, and 60-year-old Yu Ying Zeng, from the United States, have confessed to breaching privacy laws.
In 2003, they registered Chinawhys Limited, a shell company in Hong Kong. It was the start of a ten year profitable -- but illegal -- business.
Just a year later, they registered another company in Shanghai, and hired a dozen employees.
Every year they earned profits as high as 6 million yuan from about 100 clients.
More than five hundred investigation reports were found among company records, some of them severely infringing on the privacy of Chinese citizens.
Lu Wei with Criminal Invest. Division of Shanghai Public Security Bureau said, "These mainly include household registration information, vehicle and property information and exit-entry records."
Most of Humphrey and Yu’s clients were transnational corporations, including manufacturing companies, financial institutions and law firms.
The couple obtained people’s personal information at prices ranging from 800 to2,000 Yuan.
Using that information, they then sold their investigation reports at more than 10,000 Yuan.
Suspect Peter Humphrey said, "We sometimes use illegal methods to obtain personal information. I very much regret doing this, and I want to apologize to the Chinese government."
The case is still under investigation.
Early in August, Shanghai police arrested 126 people for privacy infringement, 35 of whom are now under criminal detention.