The World

When data leaks in the world's most populous country, the potential damage can be massive.

The investigative magazine Caixin reports that an estimated 100 million Internet usernames and passwords were leaked in late December in a cascade of hacking attacks that was revealed several days after it began. Caixin and other Chinese media say Internet users across a variety of websites and social networking platforms have scrambled to change their passwords and protect their information, but it's unclear what the final damage will be.

China, believed to spy heavily on its own Internet users, has waffled and balked for years at approving a comprehensive data and privacy protection law. Though there are some piecemeal regulations, little exists in the law to protect the privacy of those who expose their personal information on the Internet; a daunting reality for the country that now has the world's biggest number of Internet users.

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