The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China announced Friday on its official website that 32 apps or websites have collected and used its users’ information without their approval for unknown purposes in the second quarter of this year.
Popular apps such as Meituan, China’s largest food delivery service platform, and live streamers YY and Douyu are amid these 32 platforms, together with the website of long-term rental operator Ziroom, among others.
The leak indicates that millions of users’ private information have been collected and misused. The ministry added that it has blocked 550 million texts messages sent by fraud suspects via phones.
The ministry said it demanded these platforms to correct their wrongdoings.
Chinese live-streaming platform YY stated to KrASIA that they “corrected its misbehavior by August”, without revealing further details. Meituan has not responded to a request for comment.
YY reported in the second quarter that its global average mobile monthly active users (MAUs) reached 433.5 million, among which about 21.9 % of users were from China. Meituan had more than 422.6 million active users according to its second-quarter financial report, while Douyu’s MAUs in the same period reached 162.8 million.
The officials warned that particular seasons such as the summer vacation or the beginning of the new semester represent a favorite time for fraud suspects to conduct illegal activities.
Personal information leak is a very common case in China. A graduate student in Beijing told KrASIA to have sent more than RMB 30, 000 (USD 4,235) through Ant Financial’s Alipay, to a man who claimed to be part of China’s law enforcement authorities, who asked her to cooperate with an investigation on her personal assets, taking profit of stolen identity information.
The young woman was also cheated to borrow RMB 42,000 in total via micro-loan lending channels within Alipay and Meituan, which was instantly stolen by the man who had already controlled her bank account connected with these lending channels.
An estimated 390 million yuan (USD 55 million) were lost to internet frauds last year, reaching a five-year high, South China Morning Post reported, citing a report published by Liewang Platform, a website where Chinese internet users report online fraud cases.