The Tech Herald

D&B subsidiary in China investigated after bold claims to undercover reporters

by Steve Ragan - Mar 21 2012, 11:00

D&B subsidiary in China investigated after bold claims to undercover reporters.(IMG:J.Anderson)

After bragging to an undercover journalist that they have a database with details on 150 million people, Shanghai-based Roadway D&B found its offices raided by police once the reporter’s story was broadcast.

In a story broadcast by China's Consumer Rights Day, a Roadway D&B employee said that the company has information, such as name, sex, age, address, phone number, job, monthly income, and the type of vehicle they own, on more than 150 million people.

'By taking a glance at the database, we know whether he has purchased any insurance, how much money he has in the bank, how much he has earned and how much he has spent,' Roadway D&B employee Sun Peng said, according to a report in Shanghai Daily.

According to the televised report, the massive amount of data was collected from other information gathering firms, or by cold calling people themselves. Individual records can be sold for as little as 1.5 Yuan, or 0.23 USD. The data is brokered for use in cold calling marketing, email marketing, and advertising.

The size of the database, caught police attention, and the fact that some of it may have been illegally obtained led authorities to raid Roadway’s offices. Three executives were placed into custody, and equipment was seized.

Dunn and Bradstreet, who owns Roadway, reacted to the news by shutting down operations, “pending an investigation into allegations that its data collection practices may violate local Chinese consumer data privacy laws.”

“D&B acquired Roadway's operations in 2009, and for 2011 Roadway accounted for approximately $23 million in revenue and $2 million in operating income. In addition, D&B has been reviewing certain allegations that local employees may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and certain other laws in our China operations.

“D&B is cooperating with the local Chinese investigation, and has voluntarily reported these matters to the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. D&B will continue to actively pursue these investigations until the matter is satisfactorily resolved,” D&B said in a statement.

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