Briefing: Xiaohongshu, Ele.me and NetEase Kaola accused of harvesting user data

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工业和信息化部关于电信服务质量的通告(2019年第2号) — Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People Republic of China

What happened: Chinese authorities have accused a total of 18 apps and websites of collecting user data without permission including Alibaba’s food delivery arm Ele.me, social e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu, voice recognition leader iFlytek and NetEase’s cross-border e-commerce site Kaola. The industry ministry has called on the affected companies to rectify the issues, which include not informing users on how to update personal infomation or how to deactivate accounts. The government has also banned 33 apps which were harvesting personal data or installing promotional apps automatically.

Why important: Personal data leaks are an “extremely serious” issue in China, a report from the China Consumers Association found. Data from 85.2% of survey respondents was found to have been leaked with app operators among the largest culprits of unauthorized collection. Multiple government departments joined forces on a campaign to get tough on personal data earlier this year. This included scrutinizing the privacy statements of leading apps. Authorities aim to finish checking data security issues at 50 key IT companies and 200 popular apps before October, according to a statement on Monday.