Chinese Government’s Database of 1.8 Million ‘Breed Ready’ Women Leaked
Dutch internet expert exposes China's surveillance database
A 'surveillance state' style database in China containing personal information of over 1.8 million women, including their phone numbers, personal addresses, and 'BreedReady' status, has been leaked by a researcher.
Dutch internet expert, Victor Gevers, from the non-profit group GDI Foundation, discovered the insecure data cache while hunting for open databases in China.
Gevers posted a series of screenshots revealing the data.
The database also has fields labeled in English for sex, age, education, and marital status.
But it also has a column titled “BreedReady,” which could be a poorly translated term for women who are of child-bearing age, observers noted.
But the database was taken down Monday afternoon, according to Gevers.
The worrying data breach is all the more disturbing in the context of China’s declining birthrates.
According to a report from CNN:
China will face an "unstoppable" population decline over the coming decades, with fewer workers grappling with supporting an increasingly aging society, a report by a leading state-sponsored Chinese think tank said.
The report, which comes more than three years since China officially ended its controversial decades-long one-child policy, suggests that the "the era of negative population growth is almost here," forecasting that the country's population will peak at 1.44 billion in 2029.
According to the Guardian: Women rights advocates and critics of China’s use of strict family planning rules worry about how far the government will go to promote more women to have children.
It is not clear whether the database is related to a dating app, a government registry, or another organization or company.
Gevers, who also identified a database maintained by a surveillance company tracking at least 2.5 million residents in Xinjiang, said he was still taking samples and working on verifying the data.
“More than this, we don’t have at the moment. Our primary concern is that it gets secured ASAP,” he told the Guardian.
The average age of women in the database was 32, with the youngest being 15, he said. Almost 90% of included entries were reported single, and 82% were listed as living in Beijing.
The database also included fields labeled “political” and “video” as well as links to what appears to be Facebook profile pages.
Facebook is blocked in China and can only be accessed through virtual private networks.
The researcher said he and others were contacting some of those whose profile pages were linked to see if they were aware of the database or had registered such information.
In a thread titled “Is this the prologue to The Handmaid’s Tale?” on the discussion forum Douban, Chinese internet users compared the database to the television show based on a future where women are obligated to reproduce.
“This kind of database is very indicative and frightening,” said one user, adding: “I’m a pessimist and the fact that stories like The Handmaid’s Tale exist means the signs are already there.”
Others were less surprised and wondered whether the information could be related to a Chinese dating website Jiayuan, which was hacked by a security researcher aiming to highlight the site’s vulnerabilities in 2015.
One user on Douban wrote: “To tell the truth, this kind of data is everywhere.”