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China's WeChat denies storing user chats

THE ASIAN AGE / REUTERS
Published : Jan 2, 2018, 2:55 pm IST
Updated : Jan 2, 2018, 2:58 pm IST

The company says that the data is only stored in users’ mobiles, computers and other terminals.

A recent report also claims that Tencent’s WeChat app is working with the government to launch official, digital IDs in China.
 A recent report also claims that Tencent’s WeChat app is working with the government to launch official, digital IDs in China.

WeChat, China’s most popular messenger app, on January 2 denied storing users chat histories after a top businessman was quoted in media reports as saying he believed Tencent was monitoring everyone’s account.

“WeChat does not store any users’ chat history. That is only stored in users’ mobiles, computers and other terminals. It will not use any content from user chats for big data analysis. Because of WeChat’s technical model that does not store or analyse user chats, the rumour that ‘we are watching your WeChat everyday’ is pure misunderstanding,” the company said in a post on the social media platform.

Li Shufu, chairman of Geely, owner of the Volvo car brand, was quoted in Chinese media on January 1 as saying Tencent Chairman Ma Huateng “must be watching all our WeChats every day.”

Like all Chinese social media platforms, WeChat is required to censor public posts deemed ‘illegal’ by the Communist Party. WeChat’s privacy policy says it may need to retain and disclose users’ information “in response to a request by a government authority, law enforcement agency or similar body.”

WeChat did not immediately respond to a request for further comment. According to a report by Amnesty International, Tencent ranked at the bottom of 11 tech firms running the world’s most popular messenger apps for how they use encryption to protect user privacy.

China’s cyber watchdog in September announced a new rulemaking chat group administrators and companies accountable for breaches of content rules. In the same month, it handed down maximum penalties to tech firms including Tencent, Baidu and Weibo for failing to properly censor online content, and asked them to increase content auditing measures.

Besides, recent report from The Wall Street Journal revealed the detailing of Tencent’s WeChat app working with the government to launch official, digital IDs in China. Moreover, China’s Ministry of Public Security and Tencent launched a new digital identification system as a pilot program, planning to roll out the program across the nation.

“The program allows people to create an official ID on Tencent’s WeChat smartphone app, which is used by more than 980 million people in China for text messaging, mobile payments and other functions,” report stated.

Tags: wechat, stories, social media