ON Aug 21, Xu Yuyu, an 18-year-old girl from Linyi in East China’s Shandong province, received a call from fraudsters who knew she was eligible for a student subsidy and cheated her into remitting 9,900 yuan ($1,484) to them. Xu reported the case to local police but died of a heart attack soon afterwards, reportedly as a result of the emotional stress she was under. Five suspects have been detained by the police. Southern Metropolis Daily commented:
The police have been efficient in apprehending all the six suspects, but such high efficiency is rare. People get fraud calls every day and there are always reports of people being cheated, yet seldom do we hear of cases being solved. Some reports even quote police officers as saying that only 3 percent of such cases are solved.
These fraudsters are only the tip of a very large iceberg. It is obvious that Xu’s personal information had been leaked since the fraudsters knew her cellphone number, her name, and that she could apply for the national student subsidy. Where did they get this information? Did anybody steal it, or did an official involved with the student subsidies sell her personal information?
In many other fraud cases, the fraudsters have obtained the personal information of their victims. Previous reports show that there is a whole underground chain of selling citizens’ personal information.
Our information is not under protection at all, although the law says it is. In November, the ninth amendment to the Criminal Law included the leaking of citizens’ information as a crime, and says those caught doing it should be punished. However, that article lacks executable details.
Legal experts have long been calling for strengthening the protection of personal information. We hope Xu’s death will propel the national legislators to realize how serious the challenge is. It is time to improve the law, and introduce some executable details to curb the rampant leaking of people’s information and severely punish those who do so.