Police in Yangzhou, Jiangsu, announced on Tuesday the arrest of a software developer after an investigation found his program, Pandownload, to be offering a cracked version of Baidu’s premium cloud drive service for free.
The police first discovered the program—which mainly offers a “download accelerator” feature enabling users to increase download speeds from their Baidu drives to their devices—after a user, surnamed Liu, reported that it shared his private content without permission, caused documents to leak, and had data breaches.
After investigating the allegations, police found that the software could crack the official settings of Baidu’s cloud drive, called Baidu Netdisk, and give users high-speed downloading—a Super VIP membership privilege—for free.
The suspect in the case, surnamed Cai, allegedly earned more than RMB 300,000 (USD 42,392) from the software, garnered through donations and a premium version of his software.
Baidu stressed on Wednesday its position against crimes violating users’ privacy, in a response to the arrest.
“We have been actively cooperating with the police to crack down on crimes that infringe upon the privacy of Baidu’s Internet disk users’ data,” they said.
“If you have any suggestions or comments on Baidu Netdisk, please contact us, and we will listen carefully to your feedback.”
Launched in 2012 with the original name “Baidu Cloud,” Baidu’s consumer-facing online drive service is the biggest in China of its kind, accounting for more than 85% of the market, with 600 million registered users and 100 million monthly active users, according to local media Jiemian‘s report.
Baidu’s Super VIP membership, which costs RMB 30 (USD 4.2) per month, supports larger cloud storage, faster downloading and in-application watching. Baidu sets an extremely low downloading speed cap for non-Super VIP accounts, in a bid to turn them into paying users.