Information about more than 200,000 newborns in Shanghai has been leaked from the municipal health bureau and sold to a marketing company.
An employee at a technology firm contracted to maintain the bureau's database of newborns was caught and confessed to downloading information about the children from the beginning of last year to April this year, police said.
He was also accused of selling the information for 30,000 yuan to an insurance salesman, who then sold them to Roadway D&B, a Shanghai-based subsidiary of Dun & Bradstreet, a global business information company based in the United States.
Police said the information was vast, comprehensive and updated in a timely manner, the Oriental Morning Post reported.
About 180,000 babies are born in the city each year.
In response to the scandal, city health authorities issued a notice online yesterday to local hospitals requiring them to better manage their databases so as to prevent similar leaks from occurring.
The notice also said that the person who allegedly stole and sold the information worked for the Shanghai Yikesi Information Technology Company, which specialises in developing software for hospitals.
The scandal first surfaced following the March 15 airing by China Central Television of a report revealing that Roadway D&B was found to have sold personal information illegally. Five managers of the company were then detained, and a police investigation began.
In total, 48 people, including a Yikesi employee and the insurance salesman, have been detained and about 200 million pieces of personal information were found to have been sold.
Four days after the CCTV report aired in March, Roadway D&B released a statement on its microblog saying that its mainland operations had been suspended while it was under investigation. According to the statement, parent company D&B bought a Shanghai marketing company in 2009 and named it Roadway D&B. It earned US$23 million last year.