A white hat hacker discovered an unsecured database on Saturday listing the personal information of nearly 2 million women in China, which included a section titled, for some reason, “BreedReady.” The database was taken down as of Monday, but its existence still indicates that someone is collecting a wealth of deeply intimate information for hundreds of thousands of women.
Victor Gevers, a Dutch data security researcher, first spotted the leaked database on Saturday, posting screenshots on his Twitter account. Gevers updated the thread on Monday, noting that the database is no longer reachable. “We will keep an eye on that IP address for a while to make sure it doesn’t come back online,” he tweeted. “We still do not know how the owner was or what the database was actually designed for.”
It’s unclear exactly what the creator of the database meant by the term “BreedReady.” In some of the more extreme interpretations, it’s believed to signal that these women are being groomed for reproduction. But it can also just be used to indicate that a woman is fertile—or maybe it’s just a strange translation that means something else entirely. Since we don’t know who compiled the database, any interpretation is simply an educated guess.
Aside from the “BreedReady” column, the database also details the women’s name, phone number, age, birthday, marital status, political status, addresses, and ID number, to name a few. There’s also a column called “hasvideo,” which, well, who knows. The average age of women included was 32—the youngest was 15, and the youngest labeled as “BreedReady” was 18, according to Gevers. He also noted that 89 percent are labeled single, 10 percent are divorced, and 1 percent are widowed.
A lot of this information wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for certain apps and services to collect, such as the personal information (name, age, marital and political status, birthday, address). Social networks and dating apps, for example, probably have all or most of this information about users. The “BreedReady” status, if interpreted as able to conceive, could be information a dating service or a period tracking app might collect, for example. The more dystopian and not entirely impossible alternate scenario is that the government is behind the database, with “BreedReady” signaling efforts to monitor which women are fertile. Given China’s declining birth rate and the Chinese government’s reactionary policies, this totalitarian theory isn’t so far out of the realm.
We have reached out to Gevers to update us if they determine who is behind the database and will update when we hear back.