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Chinese ride-hailing app blocked

July 4, 2021

One of the country's biggest ride-hailing services has been ordered off app stores over "serious violations" related to customer privacy. The decision comes just after Didi's massive IPO.

Didi app on a phone
The Chinese Communist Party has told social media and e-commerce giants to handle customer information more carefully Image: picture alliance/dpa/Imaginechine/W. Yao

China's cyberspace regulator on Sunday ordered app stores to remove Didi Global Inc as the ride-hailing service overhauls its handling of customer data. The announcement of the ban came just days after the company's New York Stock Exchange debut.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said an investigation found "serious violations" in how Didi collected and used personal information.

A statement said Didi was told to "rectify problems." It did not give further details but said the company was barred from accepting new customers until the probe was completed.

Ban follows massive IPO

Earlier this week, Didi pulled off one of the biggest initial public offerings (IPO) of the past decade, raising $4.4 billion (€4.6 billion) from investors in its New York stock listing.

On Friday, CAC announced that it was starting a cybersecurity review of the company, prompting Didi shares to fall 5.3%.

The timing of CAC's announcements followed the Communist Party’s 100th-anniversary celebrations in Beijing.

Dozens of social media and e-commerce firms have been told to handle customer information more carefully as the party intensifies control over influential tech giants. Some have been told to collect less information.

In April, the Alibaba Group, the world's biggest e-commerce platform, was fined $2.8 billion on charges of violating anti-monopoly rules.

Didi reacts to ban

Didi said it would "strictly comply," without elaborating.

Customers who downloaded the Didi app before the ban can keep using it normally, the company said in a statement on its social media account.

Didi was founded in 2012 as a taxi-hailing app and has expanded to include ride-hailing services with including private cars and buses. The Chinese firm says it's also investing in artificial intelligence and electric cars.

mvb/mm (Reuters, AP, dpa)