Marriage database raises privacy concerns among Chinese, report says

Story highlights

  • Chinese citizens are raising privacy concerns with the creation of a marriage database
  • Hackers last week gained access to the information of 6 million Chinese people
  • The Ministry of Civil Affairs is dismissing concerns, saying such a database is necessary
  • Bigamy is a problem in China as many couples live apart for work
China is launching a national online marriage database to fight bigamy, a move that has raised concerns among millions of Chinese about protection of privacy.
The Chinese government's announcement that it plans to make the database available next year comes amid reports last week that hackers gained access to the personal information of 6 million users of the China Software Developer Network, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Saturday.
The hacking triggered widespread panic in China, and some Chinese citizens raised questions about the safety of the anticipated marriage database, Xinhua said.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs dismissed concerns, saying more than 20 provinces have already digitized local marriage registrations. The ministry says a centralized database will make it harder for people to commit bigamy.
Bigamy is a problem in China as many couples live apart for work and migration reasons.
"It will not only provide technical support to improve our marriage management and services, but also will act as a protective screen against illegal act such as bigamy and the concealment of marriage," Dou Yupei, the vice minister of civil affairs, said in a statement posted on the government's website.
The database, which is expected to be completed within five years, will include marriages dating back to 1949.