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China Rebukes WeChat, Multiple Other Apps for Data Transfer Violations

State regulator says the app operators were found to have illegally transferred user data. Parent companies have been given a week to fix things or face punishment.

A staff member introduces WeChat services during a state-organised media tour to Tencent's head office in Shenzhen in Sept 2020. Photo: David Kirton/ Reuters.

China said numerous apps had illegally transferred user data and ordered parent companies including Tencent Holdings‘ WeChat to rectify their mistakes or face punishment as regulators continue to tighten their oversight of privacy and data.

The 43 apps had illegally transferred users’ contact lists and location data, while also harassing them with pop-up windows, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in an online statement on Wednesday.

The list also included an e-reading app owned by Alibaba Group Holding, as well as others managed by travel giant Trip.com, and video streamer iQiyi. MIIT said the apps will have until August 25 to fix things or be punished.

Alibaba iQiyi and Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Trip.com declined to comment.

On Tuesday, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation published a set of draft rules aimed at improving fair competition, banning practices such as fake reviews and inflated public metrics.

• Reuters and Jim Pollard



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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