Saturday, 2024 July 20

Tencent suspends new user registration for WeChat as tech crackdown shows no signs of halting

Tencent’s WeChat has suspended new user registrations in China. The company said on Tuesday that it is upgrading its system to “comply with relevant laws and regulations” before registrations can resume. Existing users can still use the app.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) have both stated this month that they will strengthen governance over apps and online platforms, especially on data security and content.

MIIT said on July 16 that it will issue fines to companies that repeatedly access users’ contact lists and geolocations without permission. The CAC also announced that it will take down inappropriate content that could harm minors.

“We are currently upgrading our security technology to comply with all relevant laws and regulations,” Tencent said in a statement to Reuters. WeChat said on Weibo that registrations will resume in early August.

Amid China’s sweeping crackdown on tech companies, Tencent is one conglomerate that has been under strict scrutiny since the end of 2020. It has been dealt blows on multiple fronts.

This week, the State Administration for Market Regulation, or SAMR, ordered Tencent to remove its exclusive music licensing deals with record companies within 30 days. The company was fined RMB 500,000 (USD 77,100) as well. Tencent controls more than 80% of online music streaming rights in China exclusively, said SAMR in the statement.

Earlier this month, SAMR killed the merger between Douyu and Huya, the two largest video-game streaming platforms in China. The merger was being orchestrated by Tencent, which holds sizable stakes in both companies.

The market watchdog stated that Tencent already holds more than 40% market share in the online video games sector, so the deal would “further strengthen its dominance” and be detrimental to fair business competition.

Read this: Alibaba and Tencent weigh openings in “walled gardens” to make services accessible to each other

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Jiaxing Li
Jiaxing Li
Report on China’s turbulent tech scene with deep context and analysis: cover tech policies and regulations; write about major internet firms like Alibaba and Tencent, and a range of tech-driven sectors from the chip, edtech, EV, to metaverse and gaming industry.
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