A graduate of Renmin University of China has been detained by Beijing police for allegedly illegally obtaining the personal information of fellow students, police said on Monday.
The public security department in the capital's Haidian district said in a post on microblogging platform Sina Weibo that the graduate is surnamed Ma and the case is under investigation.
On Saturday, a Weibo user claimed a graduate from the university obtained student ID photos along with other personal information and created a website so people can rate students' appearances based on the photos.
The stolen data include students' names, ID numbers, birthplaces and dates of birth.
The post also claimed the student graduated from the university in 2019 with a master's degree in information technology and works at technology multinational Tencent.
The incident quickly became a trending topic on Sina Weibo over the weekend, and netizens have asked for the graduate to be held accountable.
An official from the university's student admission office told China Newsweek that Ma has leaked information of students who entered the university from 2014 to 2020 and most of the students' privacy during the time has been violated.
The official said that the university intends to sue the graduate and hold him accountable through the law.
Zhao Zhanling, a lawyer at Beijing Yunjia Law Firm, said the man is suspected of committing the crime of infringing on people's personal information.
According to the law, those found illegally selling or providing people's personal information, if the circumstances are serious, shall be sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison and fined, Zhao said.
When the circumstances are especially serious, the suspect shall be sentenced to three to seven years in prison and fined, he said.
According to an interpretation on criminal cases of infringing people's personal information issued by the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the top judicial authorities, people found obtaining, selling or providing more than 5,000 pieces of personal information constitutes "serious circumstances", and when the case has led to a major economic loss or serious social impact, it becomes "especially serious circumstances", Zhao said.
"The case reflects that many college students do not have enough knowledge of the law. No matter what the reasons behind his actions, he will be held accountable when he violates the law," Zhao added.