What happened: In late May, a man in Jiangxi province filed an injunction against Tencent due to perceived violations of his privacy by the company’s QQ browser. The app is separate from the tech titan’s popular social platforms WeChat and QQ, although users have the option to log in using their accounts on either service. According to the filing, the plaintiff did not give his consent to share user information across platforms, but noticed after logging into the browser via both accounts that personal data such as his profile photos, contacts, gender, birthdate, or geographic location were automatically synced. Furthermore, he wasn’t able to delete the data from the QQ browser. Tencent told Chinese media that the injunction has since been withdrawn; as of Wednesday midday, the company had not yet responded to TechNode’s request for further details.
Why it’s important: An injunction doesn’t carry the same weight as a lawsuit, and its alleged withdrawal throws further doubt about whether the claims are true. However, they may lead to further scrutiny surrounding possible privacy violations by Tencent, especially if the plaintiff follows up with a lawsuit. While official censure of tech companies both large and small for over-collecting user data is becoming more common, legal backlash from individual users is less so. According to media reports, the plaintiff in the injunction case holds a doctorate in law; in daring to stand up against major player Tencent, he could inspire other, more rigorous challenges to internet companies’ lackluster user privacy protections.