NANJING, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Twenty-five people have been detained by police in east China's Jiangsu Province for allegedly stealing and selling more than 10 million pieces of personal health information.
This is the first case handled by police since China issued a judicial interpretation on personal data protection in May amid increasing public outcry regarding the rampant theft of personal information.
The information leaked is related to andrology, gynecology, and plastic surgery, according to police in Kunshan.
In April, a plastic surgery hospital reported to police that their clients' online counselling messages had been "stolen" by other hospitals.
After a preliminary investigation, police found that an Internet company in Kunshan had purchased the leaked information and sold it to more than 100 hospitals in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen among other cities.
The source of the leaked information was a suspect surnamed Li, who had covertly accessed hospital computer systems and obtained chat data between hospitals and patients, according to police.
Since October 2015, Li has earned more than one million yuan (around 150,000 U.S. dollars) by selling the illegally obtained personal health information.
Under China's Criminal Law, those convicted of selling or providing personal information could face up to seven years in prison if "the circumstances are especially serious."
According to the new judicial interpretation, situations considered "especially serious" include illegally obtaining, selling or providing 5,000 or more items of communication records, accommodation, health or transaction information.
Investigation into the case continues.