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China slaps $1.18 bn fine on ride-hailing major Didi Global over national security

Hong Kong, July 21 (IANS) The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Thursday fined ride-hailing company Didi Global $1.18 billion after a year-long probe that found the company breaking data security and personal information protection laws.

Senior executives Will Cheng Wei and Jean Liu Qing were each fined 1 million yuan, the regulator said, reports South China Morning Post.

The CAC said in its statement that Didi committed 16 offences involving the illegal collection of data from drivers and passengers.

“They include the illegal processing of 64.7 billion personal information entries over the span of seven years since June 2015,” the report said.

The Chinese authorities initiated a cybersecurity probe into Didi, after it launched a $4.4 billion IPO in New York in June last year.

“The investigation shook investor confidence in Chinese technology stocks. Since then, few Chinese companies have chosen to list in the US,” the report mentioned.

“Didi has failed to perform its duty to maintain cyberspace security, data security, and personal information protection a bringing serious risks to national cyberspace security and data security,” the regulator said.

“Moreover, even with clear orders from regulatory authorities to correct the issues, Didi failed to carry out comprehensive and in-depth rectifications. The nature of the offences was egregious,” it added.

After cracking down on big internet companies like Alibaba and Tencent, China is now mulling regulations that seek to classify online data based on importance like national security.

Didi was found to have illegally collected nearly 12 million pieces of photo information from users’ phones, 107 million entries of facial recognition data, 53.5 million entries of age data, 16.3 million entries of occupation data, and 1.4 million entries of data about family relations.

With crackdowns on Internet companies, China has also tightened mobile app development rules with stricter requirements for content and data protection.

“With the rapid development and wider use of mobile apps, new situations and problems continue to emerge, which require (the rules) to be revised and improved to adapt to new developments,” the Cyberspace Administration of China said last month.

China will soon establish a hierarchical data classification management and protection system.

–IANS

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