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Data Risks, User Security & Privacy Concerns Surround Chinese Shopping App “Temu”

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Edited by: TJVNews.com

Chinese e-commerce platform Temu finds itself under scrutiny due to accusations of unauthorized data collection and concerns about user security, according to report on a web site known as yoursustainableguide.com. Accused of stealing consumer data to tailor advertisements, the company’s operations have raised questions about privacy and potential risks for its users, as was reported by the consumer web site.  While experts weigh in on the severity of the issue, various actions, including a state-wide ban and reports about labor rights compliance, have brought Temu’s practices into focus.

Launched just last September, the Chinese shopping app has surpassed industry giants like Shein, Amazon, and Walmart, boasting impressive daily order volumes and massive sales figures, as was reported on the yoursustainableguide.com.  While its meteoric rise is nothing short of astounding, this overnight success has also brought Temu under scrutiny for its affordability, marketing tactics, and allegations of data theft.

Just 17 days after its launch in September of 2022, the app surpassed Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat and Shein on the Apple App Store in the U.S., according to Apptopia data shared with CNBC.

According to a July 2023 report on the Politico.eu web site in April of this year, Temu expanded its operations to over a dozen EU countries including Belgium, France and Germany. Temu’s parent company, PDD Holdings, also moved its office for international operations from Shanghai to Dublin in May of this year.

Click here for more information on Temu’s expansion efforts:  https://www.politico.eu/article/booming-chinese-shopping-app-temu-faces-western-scrutiny-over-data-security-2/

The secret behind Temu’s huge success lies in its enticing advertisements that promise products at irresistibly low prices, according to the report on the yoursustainableguide.com web site.  Temu’s advertisements flaunt staggering discounts of up to 80% off retail prices, capturing the attention of budget-conscious consumers. The app features a range of products, from necklaces for as little as $1 to humidifiers at $3, offering a vast array of options under $25. This affordability combined with well-executed marketing campaigns sets Temu apart from its competitors.

Link to Temu’s Super Bowl commercial: https://youtu.be/RgNuwb9lpeg

Temu’s alleged misuse of consumer data has drawn the attention of the US government, following similar concerns raised about its sister site, Pinduoduo, according to the report. The investigation revealed that Pinduoduo had utilized malware to access user activities across apps and private messages. While analysts view Temu as a lesser threat, concerns about data risks remain, even as the company maintains that it is less aggressive in its data collection approach.

In May 2023, CNBC reported that the malware in Pinduoduo was found to leverage specific vulnerabilities for Android phones, allowing the app to bypass user security permissions, access private messages, modify settings, view data from other apps and prevent uninstallation.

Google called it an “identified malicious app” and urged users to uninstall the Pinduoduo app, but the Chinese online retailer denied those claims, as was reported by CNBC.

According to analysis by Kevin Reed, chief information security officer at cybersecurity firm Acronis, Pinduoduo requests for as many as 83 permissions — including access to biometrics, Bluetooth and information about Wi-Fi networks.

“Some of these permissions Pinduoduo is asking seems to be unexpected for an e-commerce app,” said Reed, who shared his analysis of both apps with CNBC.

Click here for more information on Temu’s sister site, Pinduoduo.   – https://www.cnbc.com/2023/05/17/temu-accused-of-data-risks-amid-tiktok-pinduoduo-fears.html

Montana’s governor, Greg Gianforte, took a decisive step by banning Temu on government-issued devices within the state, yoursustainableguide.com reported.  His action, influenced by the app’s connections to foreign adversaries, such as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), highlights the growing apprehension about the potential risks posed by the platform.

Beyond data theft allegations, Temu’s adherence to labor and human rights standards has also come into question. The US House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party reported that the company failed to ensure that products on its platform complied with the Uyghur Forced Labor Act, the report on the yoursustainableguide.com said. This report raises concerns about the ethical implications of using the platform, shedding light on the importance of considering labor rights when making shopping choices.

Cybersecurity experts caution users against blindly chasing discounts online without considering the privacy risks involved. Fred Nerenberg, a senior cybersecurity consultant, emphasized the importance of understanding how personal data is used and whether the benefits outweigh the potential risks, according to the report on the yoursustainableguide.com web site. With minimal federal regulations in place to protect user data, consumers are left to decide which platforms they trust with their information.

Nerenberg told the yoursustainableguide.com that said, “Just because you’re being offered a cheaper product doesn’t necessarily mean that you are getting the better end of the deal”. He further added, “Keep in mind where you are forfeiting your data to. How is that data going to be used, and if it’s against your risk profile, then why are you using it anyway?”

Link to yoursustainableguide.com   –  https://yoursustainableguide.com/temu-controversy-explained/

Speaking to CNBC in May of this year,  Sean Duca, vice president and regional chief security officer for Asia Pacific and Japan at cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks said, “There should be no need for biometric data to be stored on an e-commerce website or app. I personally wouldn’t want my biometric data to be stored anywhere else other than my device.”

“Biometrics have a lot greater value than anything else, because I can’t simply change my fingerprint at all, unlike passwords,” added Duca.

Temu’s privacy policies encompass an extensive range of personal information, including contact details, transaction data, payment information, and more. While the company claims to use this data to enhance user shopping experiences and protect against malware, concerns arise over the extent of information collected, as was indicated in the report on the yoursustainableguide.com web site.

This essentially translates into the fact that if one has the Temu app installed on their phone, such features as one’s contacts, one’s photos, one’s passwords, one’s encrypted personal messages, one’s banking and credit card information and other highly personal data will be directly accessed by Temu. This also means that the company has taken over your phone, your privacy and your entire life. Given the data landscape and the detailed nature of data collection, experts question whether an e-commerce platform genuinely requires such in-depth personal details.

The U.S.-China Economics and Security Revision Commission (USCC) has expressed concerns about Temu’s Chinese ownership and its potential implications for cybersecurity, data privacy, and national security, as was noted on the yoursustainableguide.com web site.  These concerns reflect the broader context of increasing scrutiny over technology companies with ties to adversarial foreign governments, such as China, among others.

The report added that despite media scrutiny, Temu has not yet addressed the privacy concerns and allegations raised against it. As users grow increasingly conscious of their data privacy, the company’s response will play a significant role in shaping public perceptions and trust in its operations.

If you’re using Temu or any other Chinese shopping apps, it’s important to take precautionary measures to protect your privacy, according to the yoursustainableguide.com report.

While the best thing you can do is to stay away from them completely, you can also implement some measures that can help you safeguard your personal information:

Familiarize yourself with the app’s privacy policy to know how your data will be collected, used, and shared. Pay attention to any clauses related to third-party sharing or data transfers.

Be mindful of the permissions you grant the app during installation. Avoid granting unnecessary access to your phone’s features, such as location, contacts, calendars, photo albums, and social media accounts.

Be cautious about sharing unnecessary personal information during the registration or checkout process. Only provide the essential details required for the transaction.

Use a strong and unique password for your account to prevent unauthorized access. Also, avoid reusing passwords across multiple platforms.

Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) whenever possible, as it provides an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification step, usually through a code sent to your mobile device.

Read reviews and do your research before making a purchase on the app. Check for complaints about faulty or damaged products, abysmal quality of service, and unfulfilled orders.

Avoid sharing sensitive information such as your credit card details, government-issued ids, or social security number on the app.

Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your internet traffic and protect your online activities from being monitored.

Always keep your device’s operating system and security software up to date to prevent vulnerabilities from being exploited.

Last but not the least, shop from reputable and trusted websites that have a good track record for protecting customer data.

The controversy surrounding Temu’s alleged data risks and privacy violations underscores the importance of responsible data handling and user protection. With concerns about targeted advertising, foreign connections, labor rights, and cybersecurity, users must carefully consider the platforms they engage with and the extent to which they are willing to share their personal information, especially in light of great possibility that Tenu is funneling personal information of users directly to the Chinese Communist Party.  As the e-commerce landscape evolves, businesses must prioritize transparent privacy policies and practices to maintain user trust and safeguard their sensitive data.


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