Dis­pute over per­sonal data high­lights their value and vul­ner­a­bil­ity of users

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

has made a com­plaint to the in­dus­trial ad­min­is­tra­tive de­part­ments against Huawei, a do­mes­tic telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment man­u­fac­turer, for grab­bing the data of its cus­tomers. Bei­jing Youth Daily com­ments:

One of Huawei’s smart­phone mod­els launched in De­cem­ber can an­a­lyze users’ shop­ping and com­mu­ni­cat­ing habits and pro­vide rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion ser­vices ac­cord­ing to the data record left on their WeChat ac­count, a so­cial me­dia plat­form run by Ten­cent.

Huawei re­sponded to Ten­cent’s com­plaint by say­ing the users’ data be­longs to the users them­selves, and if its cus­tomers click “agree” to Huawei’s in­for­ma­tion ser­vice agree­ment, it grants them the right to ac­cess their WeChat data.

The row be­tween two tech­nol­ogy giants sheds light on the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of users in the digital era. Al­though Huawei’s de­fense sounds more rea­son­able, it omits the fact that most users do not have the right to make a choice or bar­gain with the IT be­he­moths, who have an al­most ab­so­lute say in de­cid­ing not only the con­tent of the in­for­ma­tion ser­vices they pro­vide cus­tomers but also how cus­tomers en­joy them.

There is no lack of such com­pany-cus­tomer agree­ments that over­whelm­ingly stress the obli­ga­tions of con­sumers while ne­glect­ing the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of con­sumers.

While the IT com­pa­nies pro­claim they re­spect cus­tomers’ rights and pro­tect their data, none of them can deny the fact that the trade of peo­ple’s pri­vate in­for­ma­tion and cus­tomer data has evolved into a semi-overt busi­ness. If these com­pa­nies are re­ally con­cerned about up­hold­ing peo­ple’s rights and in­ter­ests, they should work to­gether in this re­gard, rather than each of them treat­ing the cus­tomers’ data as their own “pri­vate es­tate”.

Ten­cent and Huawei, as in­flu­en­tial rep­re­sen­ta­tives of their re­spec­tive mar­kets in China, should take their dis­pute as an op­por­tu­nity to call for the whole in­dus­try to come to­gether to ad­dress the over­due prob­lem of how to pro­tect per­sonal data, which is in line with the in­ter­ests of the in­dus­try.

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