An agency linked to Chinese military and intelligence agencies has obtained information on thousands of Australians, with significant information leaked. Targets include celebrities, journalists and even Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Worldwide, about 2.4 million people were identified.
Experts have described the move as a “psychological warfare” strategy to influence public opinion in Australia.
The files are believed to be linked to the Chinese agency behind the compilation, Zhenhua Data, China’s intelligence service, and the State Security Ministry.
The server also worked for the Chinese Communist Party and the People’s Liberation Army.
The information included in the disclosure shows that the server has been compiling “open source” details such as date of birth, address, marital status, and photographs.
A review of the database describes how the information obtained was encouraged from “known platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and others”.
The report adds: “In addition to personal information, they login with information on posts, likes and retweets.
“This allows a variety of relationships and key people to be noticed.”
Experts, however, point out that up to 20 percent of the information could not be obtained through any open source, meaning it could be collected from the dark web or through hacking.
Read more: China accuses Australia of interfering in major police investigations
Turi MP Tom Tuzenhat, whose family data has also been accessed, had earlier expressed fears that he could be identified by Chinese intelligence.
He said the leak marked a “significant change” in the country’s strategy.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Tuzenhat said: “This is another indication that their interest in UK politics is greater than in the general and in certain cases.
“What is clear is that the Chinese government wants to be more involved in foreign politics.
“As many of us know, directly targeted in an uncritical way, the attempt to influence the UK a few years ago went much further than usual, and this suggests that China’s private sector is being used as part of a broader data integration effort.