New Zealand’s Security Intelligence Services is evaluating the “potential risks and security concerns” of a Chinese intelligence firm’s database that has profiles on hundreds of influential Kiwis.
Spy chief Rebecca Kitteridge issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) had obtained the database, details of which have been published by Stuff.
The “Overseas Key Individuals Database” was collated by Zhenhua Data, a Chinese intelligence firm that has been linked to Beijing intelligence apparatus, is said to include details of more than 2 million people across the world largely gained through publicly available records.
Stuff has gained access to the database and confirmed more than 730 New Zealanders have been profiled, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s mother Laurell, father Ross and sister Louise, Cabinet ministers, former prime minister Sir John Key’s son Max, and sportswoman Barbara Kendall.
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“While we are still assessing the information, at this stage we believe the information is primarily drawn from publicly accessible sources such as social media and news reporting,” said Kitteridge, the director-general of security.
“We know that different organisations compile information of this nature from publicly accessible sources for a range of purposes, ranging from private companies wanting to carry out marketing or research at one end of the spectrum, through to governments seeking to influence public discussion or gather intelligence in other countries at the other.”
The SIS would review the data, of which New Zealanders formed a small part, for potential risks and security concerns, the statement read.
“I understand people may be unaware their information could be gathered up in this way … This is a timely reminder to everyone to check the security settings on their social media accounts and review the amount of information they are sharing on the internet,” Kitteridge said.
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