Didi App Store takedown demand over national data security concerns
Header image: Didi Chuxing by Alex Fan/Shutterstock.
The biggest Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing has been ordered to take down its App from the App store two days after the Cybersecurity Administration of China (CAC) launched a public inquiry into the company over cybersecurity concerns.
The investigation came two days after the company’s Initial Public Offering (IPO) in New York last Wednesday, one day before the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party. The company raised US$4.4 billion (£3.2 billion) in its debut trading period, making it the largest IPO for a Chinese company in the first half of the year and giving the company a market value of around US$70 billion (£50.5 billion).
Several Chinese media outlets earlier reported that Didi was tipped off to have shared its road data with the United States. These reports were soon deleted but “rumours” are circulating on social media.
The company is found to have “seriously violated laws on collecting and using personal information,” says a statement issued by China’s internet regulator, and a “cybersecurity review” has been launched to “safeguard national data security and to protect the public interest”.
The authority did not specify what problems it had found regarding Didi’s data security measures.
Didi App will suspend the registrations of new users while the review is ongoing, the regulator added.
According to CAC, cybersecurity reviews, in general, take up to 45 days to complete with a possible extension of 15 days in complex cases. Special reviews could require another 45 days on top of the estimated two-month duration.
Li Min, Didi’s Vice President, denied any wrongdoings through her official account on Weibo, the Chinese micro-blogging site, saying these are “malicious rumours” and “the data of all domestic users’ data is stored at servers in the country and the company never passed data to the United States.”
While the use of road data is not mentioned.
Li added, “The ‘malicious’ poster has voluntarily taken down the post, but we will pursue a lawsuit to protect our rights.”
Didi’s official Weibo account shared Li Min’s post with a comment saying, “Be alert to rumours and do not engage with rumours.”
Didi Global’s shares closed down 5.3% in Friday’s trading as the investigation was announced.
Didi has a dominant position in the online ride-sharing business in China and operates in 4,000 locations across 16 countries. There are more than 370 million annual active users and 13 million drivers in China alone registered on Didi.
The company also started taking information such as addresses frequently visited by users, phone contacts, and audio recordings of car journey after the murder of a female passenger in 2018.
In response to the App Store takedown demand, Didi sent its “sincere thanks” to government regulators for “instructing us to detect risks”.
“We will fully cooperate with the relevant government authority…we plan to conduct a comprehensive examination of cybersecurity risks, and continuously improve on our cybersecurity systems and technical capacities,” the statement said.
Current users of the App including passengers and drivers will not be affected.
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