AliExpress, Amazon and Ebay are the three examples that we can best use when describing online shopping through a website in e-Commerce and Marketplace formats. In fact, China’s AliExpress, attached to the Alibaba Group, a huge private Chinese consortium dedicated to Internet commerce in all its forms, gained so much ground in such a short time that it became a major competition for Jeff Bezos’ website in 2018.
Amazon is the website that sells the most in the world, except in one part, the territory that always resists it: China, in which the Alibaba group continues to dominate e-Commerce.
Alibaba Hacked: Millions of Data Leaked
Web scraping is a technique used by computer programs to extract information from websites. Normally these programs simulate a human’s navigation on the World Wide Web, either by using the HTTP protocol manually, or by embedding a browser in an application. In recent years, web scraping has become a widely used technique within the web positioning sector thanks to its ability to generate large amounts of data to create quality content. But it is also a technique that, as such, can be used illegally.
And that is precisely what has happened to Alibaba: According to the Bloomberg media, the Chinese business giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has been the victim of a months-long web scraping operation. An operation carried out by a marketing consultant who diverted sensitive data, including user names and phone numbers, according to a court case that took place this June.
A court in central China ruled that an employee of a consultancy that helps merchants in Alibaba’s Taobao online mall was guilty of extracting more than 1 billion data from Taobao users since 2019, using it to serve customers. customers. The court imposed jail terms of more than three years on the employee and his employer, along with fines totaling 450,000 yuan (58,000 euros to change).
According to Alibaba Group has wanted to make clear in a statement: “None of the customer data was sold and Alibaba users did not suffer financial losses” for what happened. So if you are an AliExpress user you should not worry, since the data leak / theft has not affected the Chinese Marketplace platform, and no one has your account, password or purchase details.
The incident, however, coincides with Beijing’s growing effort to tighten the ownership and management of the large volumes of digital information that internet giants from Alibaba to Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Meituan collect daily from hundreds of million users. In fact, the e-commerce giant’s shares fell more than 1% in Hong Kong trading on Wednesday after hearing the matter.
“Taobao devotes significant resources to combating unauthorized scraping on our platform, as privacy and data security is of the utmost importance. We have discovered and proactively addressed this unauthorized scraping,” a Taobao spokesperson noted in a statement, acknowledging that they did suffer a breach in their security and encryption system. “We will continue to work with law enforcement to defend and protect the interests of our users and partners.”
Power to fine and close
China’s new data security regime will take effect on September 1, giving the Xi administration the power to shut down or fine tech companies that mishandle “basic state data.” The legislature is also drafting a personal information protection law that is expected to be passed this year.
This action is happening in China in parallel to debates in the United States, where lawmakers have called for the dissolution of Internet titans such as Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc. and in Europe, where regulators have prioritized antitrust action and give give users more control over data.