Personal data of 346 000 China citizens as an art piece

25.04.2018

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To implement the idea he bought people’s personal data on the Internet and turned it into a piece of art calling the displayed information “346,000 Wuhan Citizens' Secrets”. The police didn’t admire the creative impulse.

The exhibit was closed two days later, the artist got sued and the investigation began.

China is currently facing issues concerning privacy violation and misuse of personal data by tech companies. Brokers regularly buy and sell personal information on the Internet. People get attacked by calls and messages offering them to take a loan or to buy a house.

In December 2017 Qihoo 360 was criticized for collecting personal data of restaurant visitors and gym goers in Beijing and exposing it online on its platform without permission. The major data collecting and processing organization is the Chinese government, and when tech companies join forces with governmental structures the discussions cease.

Deng Yufeng began to buy personal data half a year ago. He used the Chinese messenger QQ for communication. It cost him $800 to get names, phone numbers, users’ online shopping info, travel itineraries and license plates.

Deng Yufeng explained his notion affirming that artists should not just create but be socially responsible.

The personal data was printed with a special ink which could be seen only under some special lighting. All the sensitive data was edited.

The problem appeared to be not in exposure but in purchasing personal information which is considered illegal.

Some governmental newspaper published a comment stating that the art piece indicated that there are breaches in law defending private data as well as issues in law enforcement.

The artist might face 7 years in prison. Although attorneys are sure that Deng will not get incarcerated because his actions caused no trouble.

The artist is famous for his social-driven art. His projects concern ID forgery and arms trade.

Deng sent about 10 000 messages inviting people whose data he used to the exhibit.