Why Is MiningLamp Getting Ink?

December 3, 2019

The question “Why is MiningLamp getting ink?” is an interesting one to some people. The firm was founded in 2014. The company was a product of bunsha practiced by Miaozhen Systems, a company engaged in advertising “analysis.” The company is funded by Tencent, China Renaissance, and Sequoia Capital China. The firm may have revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Data about the influence of the Chinese government is not available to the DarkCyber team at this time. MiningLamp may have received as much as $290 million from its backers.

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Companies want publicity to get sales leads, attract investors, create buzz to lure new hires, and become known to procurement professionals in government agencies.

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We noted talk about MiningLamp at a couple of law enforcement and intelligence conferences. The company provides policeware and intelware to customers in China and elsewhere. You can read about the firm on its Web site at this link. (Be patient. The service seems to provide a high latency experience.) Product pages also seem to be missing in action.

Nevertheless, “Chinese Data Mining Firm MiningLamp, Now a National AI Champion, Began by Helping Police Solve Crimes” does not talk about a dearth of public information. The write up states that “MiningLamp’s business analytics tools are used by more than 200 companies in the Fortune 200.” That’s a lot of big companies embracing investigative software. Judging from the attendees at law enforcement and intelligence conference, these big companies are finding out about a Chinese company somehow.

The news story states that “Like Palantir, this Chinese start up uses AI to help corporate clients convert huge volumes of data into actionable information.” Palantir is a big ticket item. Perhaps price is a factor or Fortune 200 companies want to rely on a business intelligence system operated by a company located outside the span of control of some government authorities.

The company has been named a Chinese champion. The article reveals:

Although not as well known as US equivalent Palantir Technologies, which reportedly contributed to America’s success in hunting down Osama bin Laden, MiningLamp’s data mining software is used to spot crime patterns, track drug dealers and prevent human trafficking.

DarkCyber thinks that any company which has 200 Fortune listed companies as customers is reasonably well known.

We learned:

“Cases are being resolved on our platforms every day” in more than 60 cities and regions in China, said founder and CEO Wu Minghui. “We can run fast analysis on potential drug dealers or major suspects, improving the overall case-solving efficiency several hundred times.”

The article recycles the jargon used by policeware and intelware vendor; for example:

MiningLamp’s software enables users to search huge volumes of heterogeneous data – information with a great variety of types and formats – and process that into actionable knowledge and insight using a combination of proprietary and commercially available data management tools.

Some of the firms using the software are listed in the write up:

The ability to find connections and generate new insights does not only apply to public security. MiningLamp’s business analytics tools are used by more than 200 companies in the Fortune 500, ranging from P&G and Coca Cola to LV and China UnionPay. Smaller clients include Shanghai Metro Group which uses the software to conduct automated subway overhauls and maintenance, and the producers of popular Chinese debate show Let’s Talk, who use it to gain insight into the social media habits of their audience.

DarkCyber asks, “Are these the Chinese units of some US firms?” That seems more likely than the US headquarters of these companies.

Several questions cannot be answered by the DarkCyber team at this time:

  1. Where are the data from the clients stored?
  2. What other parties have access to these data?
  3. Are the Fortune 200 firms using the software accessing the system from offices outside of China?
  4. Why is MiningLamp getting the honors it is receiving?
  5. What are the license fees for the firm’s products and services?

Like other policeware firms operating in Asia, information is difficult to obtain even at specialist conferences.

Perhaps Palantir Technologies may find its push into Asia more difficult going forward. Most policeware outfits set up shop in Singapore. Hong Kong is not an ideal location. Palantir’s new joint venture in Japan may be a response to MiningLamp’s “success.”

Worth watching how this national champion performs on a global stage. But those 200 Fortune 500 companies? Interesting indeed.

Stephen E Arnold, December 3, 2019

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