On Monday, the Justice Department announced that it was charging four members of China’s People’s Liberation Army with the 2017 Equifax breach that resulted in the theft of personal data of about 145 million Americans.
The attack, according to the charges, was part of a coordinated effort by Chinese intelligence to steal trade secrets and personal information to target Americans.
Using the personal data of millions of Americans against their will is certainly alarming. But what’s the difference between the Chinese government stealing all that information and a data broker amassing it legally without user consent and selling it on the open market?
Both are predatory practices to invade privacy for insights and strategic leverage. Yes, one is corporate and legal and the other geopolitical and decidedly not legal. But the hack wasn’t a malfunction of the system; it was a direct result of how the system was designed.