Zhenhua Data Leak Includes Names of 411 Icelanders

Vala Hafstað

The names of at least 411 Icelanders and personal details about them are included in a database compiled by a small Chinese tech company in Shenzhen, Zhenhua Data Technology, which reportedly has ties to Chinese authorities and the military. Morgunblaðið published the list of the Icelanders in today’s issue of the newspaper.

The Zhenhua data leak has received a great deal of attention worldwide. The database was leaked  to Christopher Balding, an American academic. It is believed to contain details about 2.4 million people from all around the world. He sent it to the Australian cyber security firm Internet 2.0 in Canberra, which has been reconstructing the data.

The list of Icelanders includes the names of numerous influential people, their children, spouses and relatives. It includes the names of politicians, former diplomats, as well the names of business people, especially those who have had dealings with China. Moreover, the list includes the names of judges, police officers, journalists and athletes.

The 411 names are believed to be but a fraction, perhaps only 10 percent, of the names of Icelanders actually collected by the company. All the information collected about the Icelanders appears to be information that’s publicly available.

The objective of this wide-ranging data collection is unclear. The data include dates of birth, addresses, marital status, political activity, photos, the names of relatives and people’s usernames on social media. The information has been collected from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and even TikTok, as well as from news reports, verdicts and charges.

Internet 2.0 has succeeded in reconstruction about 10 percent of the leaked database. Robert Potter, the managing director of the company, tells Morgunblaðið he doesn’t believe his company will be able to reconstruct the whole database, since it was quite damaged. The work is still in progress.

The list of Icelanders appears to have been haphazardly compiled. It includes the names of several deceased individuals, and the spelling of some names is incorrect. 

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