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Tencent apps may be vetoed by some parts of the Chinese government in privacy crackdown

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By Shawn Lim | Reporter, Asia Pacific

November 30, 2021 | 4 min read

Tencent has been asked to submit its products for inspection, with some Chinese state-owned companies already asking their employees to stop using Tencent’s WeChat and be cautious for using the app for work-related communications.

This comes after numerous Tencent apps were found to have infringed users' rights and interests, leading the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to ask Tencent to submit its apps for inspection.

MIIT has also issued a notice to say that between November 24 to December 31, all mobile apps and their updates will need to undergo a roughly seven-day-long review before they can be uploaded to app stores.

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Tencent apps were found to have infringed users' rights and interests

“We are continuously working to enhance user protection features within our apps, and also have regular cooperation with relevant government agencies to ensure regulatory compliance. Our apps remain functional and available for download," Tencent said in a statement.

In addition, nine state-run companies like China Mobile, China Construction Bank, and China National Petroleum told employees that any chat groups set up for work purposes on WeChat, Tencent’s messaging app, could contain sensitive information and should be shut down and deleted, according to The Wall Street Journal.

They also ordered employees to be cautious about using WeChat, which has 1.26 billion monthly active users, for work-related communications.

Previously, the Shanghai Consumer Council has asked Tencent to clarify if the company has stopped collecting user data if it will continue collecting the data if users opt-out of personalized ads, and what it does with unused data.

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The latest salvo fired at Tencent is part of Beijing’s larger efforts to crack down on the country’s big tech, with a national campaign aimed at what it perceived as major issues in the digital industry.

The six-month-long campaign to address the ‘tough problems’ of the internet industry – including disturbing market order, infringing users’ rights, threatening data security, and unauthorized internet connections – resulted in the creation of China’s new personal data law, The Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which came into effect on November 1.

Tencent’s rival Alibaba has also been significantly impacted by the tightened rules, as its revenue rose by 29% to 200.7bn yuan ($31.4bn) in the three months to the end of September, its slowest rate of growth for a year-and-a-half.

The e-commerce giant also expects its annual revenue to grow by between 20% and 23%, lower than analyst forecasts.

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