Apple-backed ridesharing service Didi Chuxing removed from app store for privacy concerns

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In 2016, Apple announced a $ 1 billion investment in Uber’s Chinese competitor Didi Global, with Tim Cook saying the investment presented various strategic opportunities for Apple. The investment also earned Apple a seat on Didi’s board of directors.

Today, just days after its initial public offering in the United States, Didi Chuxing has come under fire for illegally collecting user data, and the China Cyberspace Administration has now ordered the removal of the app from the App Store.

As reported by Bloomberg, China’s Cyberspace Administration made the announcement on Sunday, “citing serious violations” regarding Didi’s “collection and use of personal information”. Today’s announcement comes just two days after the regulator revealed it was starting a cybersecurity review of Didi, which is an unusually swift move.

More generally, Beijing has restrained the growing influence of China’s largest internet companies, stepping up efforts to tighten the ownership and handling of the information treasures that the online powerhouses of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Tencent and Didi recover hundreds of millions of users daily. The regulator on Sunday ordered Didi to rectify its problems in accordance with legal requirements and national standards, and take action to protect the personal information of its users.

The decision of the Chinese Cyberspace Administration means that Apple will have to remove the Didi app from the App Store in China, as will operators of other app stores such as Huawei and Xiaomi. Didi says she is already in the process of updating her app to come into compliance:

On Sunday, the company said on its official social media account that it had already halted new user registrations on July 3 and is now working to rectify its application in accordance with regulatory requirements.

It is not known when an updated version of the Didi app will be submitted to the App Store. In the meantime, the app will continue to work for existing users, according to the company.

In 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that he was investing in Didi as “a chance to learn more about certain segments of the Chinese market”, while being convinced that Didi has the potential to eliminate traffic jams. Since then, however, Apple hasn’t spoken much about its investment in Didi.

Apple’s seat on Didi’s board also gives him direct access to some of the auto industry’s top executives. It’s unclear whether this privacy scandal will impact Apple’s investment in the company.

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