China / Society

Newborns' privacy breached by videos

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2016-07-13 07:58

Nearly 6,000 newborns are the latest victims of leaked personal information, as video clips were spread online showing them lying in incubators.

The babies' faces, names, ages, diseases and admission dates were clearly visible in the videos, which were taken at the neonatal intensive care unit of Anhui Provincial Women and Child Health Care Hospital, Beijing News reported.

The hospital said the infants in the videos were admitted from early 2014 to early 2015.

"Parents of the infants could watch the videos to check their situation in the unit by logging onto a website authorized by the hospital with their username and password. We thought it was a hacker attack and made a police report," the hospital said on its website.

A mother using the alias Su Jin was the first to report the leak to police after she found a 15-second clip of her son on the video sharing website, according to Beijing News.

The screenshots provided by Su showed the uploader's name as "BBS of Anhui Women and Child Website", which had uploaded 5,793 such clips that had been played 139,000 times. The video clips on have been removed.

The hospital did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Although the hospital claimed that the video clips were provided to parents for free and there was no economic interest for it to sell the data, lawyers said the hospital is jointly liable for the privacy breach and parents can request civil compensation.

Theft of personal information has been ubiquitous. Roughly 80 percent of the population has experienced leaks of information, such as names, home addresses and ID numbers, and they receive spam calls almost every day, according to the Investigation Report on the Protection of the Rights and Interests of Chinese Netizens (2015) conducted by the Internet Society of China.

"Since the second day after giving birth to my daughter, I got numerous phone calls for infant formula, hair-shaving services, shower services, photography, the baby's 100-day feast, insurance and early education. They knew everything about our family and the baby," said Tang Ying, a mother of an 8-month-old girl in Shanghai.

"Although laws bar government workers and employees in finance, education, medical treatment and telecommunications from selling personal information, it's exploited by some as a method of obtaining money," said Yi Shenghua, a lawyer at Yingke Law Firm.

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