Washington highlights security concerns . . .
Beijing-based Kunlun Tech announced last week that it has agreed to sell its gay dating app Grindr for C$848M after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States determined that the app’s Chinese ownership poses a national security risk. The app contains the sensitive personal information of millions of Americans, including their sexual orientation and HIV status. After Kunlun’s announcement, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered another Chinese tech firm, Beijing Shiji Information Technology, to divest its interest in a hotel-management software company, StayNTouch. Recently, U.S. senators introduced a bill to ban federal employees from using Beijing-based video sharing app TikTok on their government-issued devices.
TikTok responds . . .
In response to the increasingly assertive stance from Washington, on March 11, TikTok announced that it will open a content-moderation centre in Los Angeles. The popularity of the app has grown rapidly among teenagers in the U.S.. To address federal concerns, the new centre will open the company’s source code and operations to transparent review and provide detailed information on data privacy and security, particularly as the company faces opposition from U.S. lawmakers who have accused the company of sharing personal data with the Chinese government.
Growing distrust of Chinese tech companies . . .
Central to the U.S.’s growing distrust of Chinese-backed tech firms operating in the country is a Chinese law that obliges China-based companies to co-operate with and provide access or support for China’s state intelligence gathering. But even in China, perspectives on data privacy have been changing, including in light of recent revelations that domestic tech companies have been collecting and using consumers’ data without their consent. According to the China Consumer Association Survey (2018), 85 per cent of consumers in China have experienced some level of personal data leak.