Apple-backed ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing removed from App Store over privacy concerns

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

Now, just days after going public with a US IPO, Didi Chuxing is under fire for illegally collecting user data, and the China Cyberspace Administration has now ordered the app to be removed from the App Store.

As reported by Bloomberg, the Cyberspace Administration of China made the announcement on Sunday, “citing serious violations” in regards to Didi’s “collection and usage of personal information.” Today’s announcement comes just two days after the regulator revealed it was beginning a cybersecurity review of Didi, representing an unusually quick decision.

More broadly, Beijing has been curbing the growing influence of China’s largest internet corporations, widening an effort to tighten the ownership and handling of troves of information that online powerhouses from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Tencent and Didi scoop up daily from hundreds of millions of users. The regulator on Sunday ordered Didi to rectify its problems following legal requirements and national standards, and take steps to protect the personal information of its users.

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

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

It’s unknown when an updated version of the Didi app will be submitted to the App Store. In the meantime, the app will continue working for existing users, the company says.

Back in 2017, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained it was investing in Didi as “a chance to learn more about certain segments of the China market,” while also holding the belief that Didi has the potential to eliminate traffic jams. Since then, however, Apple hasn’t spoken much about its Didi investment.

Apple’s seat on Didi’s board also gives it a direct route to have connection to some of the top executives in the car industry. It’s unclear whether this privacy scandal will have any impact on Apple’s investment in the company.

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