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Ex-employee of Alipay among 3 suspected of stealing customer data since 2010

A FORMER employee of Alipay and two accomplices are in custody, suspected of having sold customers’ personal information to e-commerce companies starting in 2010.

The former employee of the payment company, now in the custody by Hangzhou police, is believed to have obtained personal information of up to 20 gigabytes, the Economic Observer reported over the weekend.

Alipay, the payment unit of China's largest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group, said in a statement that its users' key transaction data was under strict protection and vowed to step up vigilance of user privacy.

Alipay said it discovered the activity of the former employee and two of his accomplices during internal auditing in 2012 and reported it to the police, according to a statement released over the weekend.

The ex-employee had been selling personal information of Alipay users, including their cellphone numbers, home addresses, email accounts and transaction records to a former employee surnamed Zhang in an external e-commerce company based in Hangzhou, officials said.

The ex-employee confessed that he downloaded Alipay users' information from its backstage platform and worked with two IT professionals outside of Alipay to sell the data to "target customers," which are mostly e-commerce companies that want to sell advertisement to woo online shoppers, police said.

Alipay added that consumers' bank card numbers and payment passwords are protected using encryption technology and can't be passed on to any other third party. It will also step up efforts to prevent similar events.

Information leaks and selling and purchasing of personal data have become widespread, and police have nabbed several criminal gangs in Shanghai that used information to steal money from the victims' credit cards through online transactions.


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