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Government Blasts Tencent, Xiaomi Apps for Data Privacy Abuses

By Matthew Walsh / Dec 19, 2019 01:02 PM / Politics & Law

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

China’s government has named and shamed some of the country’s biggest internet firms whose apps continue to violate user privacy, as the industry regulator nears the end of an official crackdown on the illegal collection of personal information.

Software operated by the likes of internet giants Tencent and smartphone-maker Xiaomi appear on the list of 41 rogue apps published in a Thursday circular by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The apps’ violations range from illicitly collecting and using personal data to demanding unnecessary permissions from users and hindering account cancellation.

Tencent’s popular instant-messaging service and web portal QQ, which had 807 million monthly active accounts last year, was blasted for continuing to force users to give up their location data, require them to give a host of authorizations before granting access to the app, and stymie account cancellations. In addition, QQ’s reading app, QQ Yuedu, was found to have secretly collected personal data and shared it with third parties.

The list also singled out a finance app operated by smartphone giant Xiaomi that still makes account cancellations trickier than necessary.

Caixin Global has contacted both Tencent and Xiaomi for comment.

Other apps to receive a rap across the knuckles include digital media platform Sina Sports, news provider Sohu News, and news and data platform 36Kr. A number of logistics, livestreaming, and lifestyle apps also appeared on the list.Since the campaign was launched in November, more than 8,000 apps had rectified their behavior, the ministry said in the circular, urging the companies concerned to straighten themselves out by Dec. 31 or be “dealt with” according to the law.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: China Starts Crackdown on Apps’ Violations of User Privacy

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