If you have recently updated WeChat/Weixin and Weibo apps, you will get a prompt to read their privacy policies before using the service. I did not get a screenshot of the English version of WeChat’s privacy policy but the Chinese-language one can be found within the app. It seems to have been updated on August 22, 2017. As for Weibo, I did not check whether there are any changes in the displayed version.

I suspect the notifications are added because WeChat and Weibo are among the first to undergo privacy policy reviews by the Cyberspace Administration of China under the Cybersecurity Law.

A quick scan of Weibo and WeChat’s privacy policies shows that they emphasize:

  1. User data will be stored in mainland China-based severs (WeChat specifies where the data is originally collected while Weibo mentions “cross-border transfer of data  will be automatically done via China-based servers”);
  2. the apps will need to collect personal information including phone number, in the case of WeChat, “the purpose of collecting phone number is to fulfill the requirement of real name registration regulations” and that  a user’s phone number will be “stored as long as the user keeps using WeChat service”.
  3. Not surprisingly,  Weibo tells its users that it will always obtain their authorization before collecting any of their information unless “the information is related to national security and national interests, public interests, investigation of critical activities, life or financial security” etc.

Some apparent differences:

  1. When a user decides to terminate his/her account, Weibo promises that it will “delete all information associated with the account” while WeChat simply says it will “either delete or anonymize relevant personal information.”
  2. When it comes to special protection on underage users, Weibo’s privacy policy seems more lax than WeChat’s. WeChat asks anyone under the age of 18 to obtain a “written approval from parents before they use WeChat services.” Could it be because the recent storm of criticism Tencent has undergone for failing to restrict underage users from playing mobile games?

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