WeChat rolls out new privacy rules


Popular Chinese social platform WeChat issued new rules that aim to protect user privacy. The revamped policy arrives amid global concerns around data privacy.


The news comes just days after a new EU law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), went into effect. The law aims to give citizens more agency over their personal data, as well as create a data privacy standard for EU countries.

WeChat‘s new data privacy rules are a part of the company’s bigger overhaul efforts in the space. They are not as expansive as those reflected in the GDPR, but were likely developed as a response.

The primarily focus of WeChat’s rules introduced May 29 are on data leaks and IP rights for content producers, Technode reported.

U.S. officials frequently criticize Chinese companies for unscrupulously poaching American IP, and the issue has been a major issue in recent and ongoing trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

The rules further regulate the already strict policy concerning external link sharing in the platform.

Technode summarized the new rules:

  • To avoid harassment of users caused by excessive marketing, the publication and transmission of special identification codes and password information in WeChat Moments (a function similar to Facebook’s newsfeed) is not allowed.

  • External links, including audio-visual content, should not be transmitted in any form without obtaining proper licenses. External links will not be able to change the return path for users. Previously, when users would tap on an external link and then tap the back button, sometimes they would end up on a new page instead of the page they previously visited.

  • Pop-up widgets and floating layers will not be able to contain private user data. The use of pop-up widgets in external links may lead to information leaks, including users’ nicknames and profile photos.

  • Punishments will be given in steps: if an external link is blocked, the operators can send an email to unblock it. The second strike blocks the link for 12 hours, third for 24 hours, and the fourth indefinitely. In cases that are discovered to be malicious, the account, domain name, IP address or sharing interface will all be blocked.

WeChat also updated the international version of its privacy terms a week ago.

The terms specify the rules of usage, the location of storage, applicable laws and regulations, and the retention time of information in the WeChat.

For international users, account information will be deleted after 180 days of inactivity. Chat records will be stored for 72 hours and then permanently deleted. The changes are not reflected in the Chinese iteration of WeChat.

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