Chinese life services app Meituan has come under fire for data privacy issues ranging from intensive location tracking to account safety loopholes.
Why it matters: Data privacy complaints are yet another blow to the Chinese “super app” Meituan, which was recently fined $534 million for antitrust violations.
Details: A Chinese gadget review vlogger named Xuanningxuan Sir criticized the app for tracking his location even when he’s not using it.
- The Meituan app was reportedly tracking the vlogger’s location every five minutes around the clock on Oct. 8, according to a two-minute screen-shot video he shared in a Weibo post on Sunday. “This is creepy. What on earth do they want to do?” he asked in the post.
- Xuanningxuan’s concerns are shared by many. On microblogging platform Weibo, the hashtag “Meituan app tracks user location all day around” had attracted 100 million views as of Monday morning.
- Separately, Wang Sicong, the son of China’s one-time richest man Wang Jianlin and a serial tech investor, reported his account on Meituan’s restaurant review app Dianping was stolen. The news also made local headlines on Monday.
- Wang, known for being vocal online, reported the incident in a Sunday Weibo post. Xuanningxuan suggested on Weibo that an account security loophole could be the reason for Wang’s situation. Dianping only requires a phone number and birthdate for users to change the bound phone number of an account, potentially leaving accounts vulnerable to hackers.
- Dianping responded to local media and said they had frozen Wang’s account to prevent further data leakage.
Context: Data privacy issues have drawn increasing attention in China, both from individuals and regulators. In August, the country approved one of the world’s strictest data privacy laws, aiming to curb data collection by technology companies.
- Meituan is not the only company that faces such concerns. WeChat was criticized last week for regularly accessing users’ photo albums even when the app is not used. A statement from parent company Tencent promised to end the practice.