Dispute over personal data highlights their value and vulnerability of users
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.