The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) raised the issues surrounding Chinese company, Zhenhua Data Information Technology, with the Chinese ambassador on Wednesday, 16 September, sources cited by news agency ANI said, two days after an Indian Express report revealed that the Shenzhen-based company had been monitoring various prominent Indian citizens.
The Centre has also constituted an expert committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study the reports around the issue, evaluate their implications, assess any violations of law and submit its recommendations within 30 days, the sources further said.
"“China said that Zhenhua is a private company and stated its position publicly... Government of India (GoI) is deeply concerned with any report that suggests that foreign sources are accessing or seeking to access the personal data of our citizens without their consent. GoI take very seriously the protection of privacy and personal data of Indian citizens.”" - Sources cited by ANI
According to PTI, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has sent a letter to Congress leader KC Venugopal, stating that the matter had been taken up with the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
"The matter was taken up by the Ministry of External Affairs with the Chinese Ambassador today. Our Embassy in Beijing also raised it with the Foreign Ministry of China. The Chinese side conveyed that Shenzen Zhenhua is a private company and had stated its position publicly," the minster told Venugopal.
"In their part, the Chinese Foreign ministry maintained that there was no connection between the company concerned and the Chinese government," he also reportedly said. Reportedly, Jaishankar also said that in their statement, a representative of the company stated that the data collected was from open sources and had denied accessing private information from confidential sources.
“The Government of India takes very seriously the protection of the privacy and personal data of Indian citizens. It is deeply concerned at any report that suggests that foreign sources are accessing or seeking to access the personal data of our citizens without their consent,” the External Affairs Minister told the Congress leader.
According to The Indian Express' investigation, some of the individuals being monitored allegedly include President Ram Nath Kovind, PM Modi, the vice president of India, the Congress president, along with chief ministers, MPs and other prominent people.
Congress leaders in the Rajya Sabha raised their concern over the Chinese website spying on over 10,000 Indians on Wednesday. “This is a major area of concern. I would like to know from the government whether it has taken note of it. If so, what action has been taken," Congress leader KC Venugopal said.
According to the sources, External Affair Minister S Jaishankar communicated about decisions taken by the government to Venugopal in response to demands from him and other MPs for protecting the data of Indian leaders and others from spying by Chinese companies.
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