Chinese messaging platform WeChat – which President Trump sought to ban from operating in the United States – has admitted to regularly scanning users’ photos even while the app isn’t in use.
WeChat – which saw the Trump-era efforts to ban it halted by Joe Biden’s Commerce Department – confessed to the disturbing and intrusive practice after an exposé by a tech influencer known as “Hacklous”.
Owned by Chinese Communist Party-affiliated Tencent – which counts high-profile Biden appointees and Democratic officials as investors – WeChat “scans photo galleries for durations of up to 1 minute each while running in the background,” according to Hacklous.
“The same influencer later added that Tencent’s QQ messaging app and Taobao, Alibaba Group Holding’s top online shopping marketplace with roughly 900 million MAUs, have also been found to be routinely scanning user photos,” a report added.
WeChat’s infringement on privacy prompted fears among users that the app could be covertly accessing additional types of data. “Now that they can scan photos, it’s quite easy to read other stuff on the phone,” one user posted on Chinese social media platform Weibo.