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Software CEO arrested for stealing US election worker data, storing it on Chinese servers

The CEO of a software company that tracks the behavior of US election workers was arrested Tuesday over suspicion of stealing personal information and illegally storing it on Chinese computer servers.

Eugene Yu, the founder and CEO of Konnech, was required to keep his company’s data in the US and only provide access to citizens and permanent residents, but instead stored it on servers in the People’s Republic of China, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.

Yu, 51, was arrested in Michigan and held on suspicion of theft of personal identifying information, while computer hard drives and other “digital evidence” were seized by investigators from the LA district attorney’s office, according to the office.

In 2020, Konnech won a five-year, $2.9 million contract with LA County for software to track election worker schedules, training, payroll, and communications, according to the county clerk, Dean C. Logan.

Konnech CEO Eugene Yu
Facebook/Konnech, Inc.

LA prosecutors are seeking to extradite Yu to California, where he allegedly stole data from hundreds of poll workers.

The DA’s office didn’t specify what specific information allegedly was taken, but officials said it only involved poll workers, not voting machines or vote counts and didn’t alter election results.

There wasn’t any evidence that any election worker was bribed or extorted, and an investigation was pending into whether any of the data went into inappropriate hands, the DA’s office said.

“Security in all aspects of any election is essential so that we all have full faith in the integrity of the election process,” District Attorney George Gascón said in a statement.

election workers
AFP via Getty Images

“With the mid-term General Election 35 days away, our focus remains on ensuring the administration of this election is not disrupted,” said a statement from LA County Clerk Dean Logan.

Yu’s company issued a statement denying its founder’s alleged wrongdoing.

“We are continuing to ascertain the details of what we believe to be Mr. Yu’s wrongful detention by LA County authorities,” The Konnech statement read. “Any LA County poll worker data that Konnech may have possessed was provided to it by LA County, and therefore could not have been ‘stolen’ as suggested.”

The Associated Press contributed reporting.