A Beijing court recently sentenced four people to prison for participating in telecom fraud. The case served as an example of the capital's determination to protect people's personal information through the judicial system.
"Telecom fraud is the most common crime through which people's personal rights are infringed upon, and it seriously harms society," Xiao Jiangfeng, chief judge of the first criminal adjudication tribunal with the Beijing High People's Court, told a news conference on Wednesday.
He highlighted the importance of strengthening the fight against telecom fraud.
"We must harshly punish those who infringe upon people's personal information to prevent their data from being used to commit other crimes."
In the case disclosed by the court, two people surnamed Hu and Zhang were found to have illegally obtained others' identity cards so that they could register to receive a series of mobile phone numbers from a telecom company. They then used those numbers to commit fraud, according to the Beijing Daxing District People's Court.
Two other defendants, both former employees of the company surnamed Ren and Lu, helped Hu and Zhang obtain the phone numbers, even though they realized that the numbers might be used for fraud, the district court said, adding that Hu and Zhang were able to earn more than 1.7 million yuan ($233,144) from their illicit actions.
Hu was sentenced to four years in prison for personal data infringement and using the internet to commit crimes, and was fined 120,000 yuan. Zhang was sentenced to two years in prison for personal data infringement and fined 20,000 yuan, the court said.
In addition, Ren and Lu each received one-year prison sentences and fines of 10,000 yuan for assisting Hu and Zhang in their crimes, it added.
Beijing courts have made combating personal information infringement a top priority in recent years as they look to further crack down on telecom fraud, said Sun Lingling, vice-president of Beijing's high court.
"With the rapid development of the digital economy and new technologies, the problem of personal data leakage has become increasingly prominent," she said, adding that the safety and protection of personal information has drawn a lot of attention from the public.
Data released by the high court on Wednesday showed that the city's courts have resolved 219 personal data infringement cases since 2018, with punishments given to 294 people.
About 25 percent of the cases involved highly sensitive personal data, including the locations of the victims and their credit information, travel information, phone and chat records, health statuses and financial transactions, Sun said.
She added that in more than half the cases, the defendants were employees or insiders of companies such as internet platforms, financial investment firms and real estate agencies.