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    Published on August 14, 2023 last updated on August 14, 2023

    Chinese e-commerce platforms under the radar for privacy concerns

    This year has marked a lot of suspicion and questions regarding Chinese-owned e-commerce platforms such as Shein and Temu. In March 2023, Pinduoduo, also owned by PDD Holdings, was suspended by Google as Android users were faced with vulnerabilities due to Malware. This allowed the app to bypass user security permissions and access private messages, modify settings, and view data of other apps. 

    Temu is owned by PDD Holdings, a NASDAQ-listed company in China that also owns Pinduoduo. Customers receive major discounts and deals for low-priced items such as sneakers, kids' toys, clothes, and home appliances.

    “If you're willing to wait, then you can get a deep discount. If you're willing to log on and share your data, we'll give you a bonus. If you're willing to refer, we'll give you a bounty, so all of this is helping to create a strong enrolled user base​.”

    -Richard Crone, CEO of Crone Consulting (Source: ABC Action News)

    Temu entered the US Market in Fall 2022 and continued with EU countries such as Belgium, France, and Germany in April 2023. The app found great success, thanks to viral content on TikTok and Instagram pushing users to download the app. 

    As of July 8, Temu was ranked the most downloaded app on the App Store in Belgium, France, Italy, Germany, and Portugal and downloaded more than 50 million times on Google. In countries such as the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, it was the second most downloaded app. 

    It was later found out, upon sign-up, Temu requests 24 permissions from users, including access to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi network information which is a cause of concern. One could wonder whether an e-commerce platform needs such data to conduct its operations.  

    "Just because you're being offered a cheaper product doesn't necessarily mean that you are getting the better end of the deal. Keep in mind where you are forfeiting your data too. How is that data going to be used, and if it's against your risk profile, then why are you using it anyway?"

                -Fred Nerenberg, senior cybersecurity consultant at a Canadian security firm (Source: CBS News)

    The United States of America is also concerned about Temu being linked to entities that operate in China which could potentially contribute to sharing data with the Chinese government and eventually pose a threat to the economy of their citizens. 

    Would you agree to all app preferences for fast fashion? Join the conversation in our Yes We Trust community, a free discussion group for data privacy professionals and enthusiasts, on LinkedIn:

    Go to the Yes We Trust community

    avatar Jivika Lillaney

    Jivika Lillaney

    Content writer at Didomi. I am a digital creator who loves to explore the world and tick off things on my bucket list!