After Microsoft’s professional networking platform LinkedIn’s withdrawal last month, Yahoo on November 1 announced that it will be moving its services out of China for good. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company has cited ‘the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China’ as being the reason for its exit.
While Yahoo is not very popular in the country, access to its websites like Aol.com, TechCrunch, EndGadget, and its apps like Yahoo Weather, Mail, and Finance will be hindered, WSJ reported.
Both foreign and domestic technology firms have been facing increasing scrutiny by the Chinese government through lawsuits, penal actions, content takedown requests, etc. The scrutiny only increases with China’s new Personal Information Protection Law which incidentally came into effect on November 1.
Previous troubles faced by Yahoo in China
- In early October, Yahoo’s Finance and News apps were removed from Apple’s China app store according to activist website Applecensorship.com.
- In 2020, Yahoo was reportedly sued by a Chinese activist for allegedly handing over the contents of his email account to the Chinese Communist Party that led to his arrest, torture, and imprisonment.
- In 2017, Yahoo was reportedly sued by Chinese dissidents for failing to protect them.
- In 2007, the company had reportedly admitted and apologised for providing information about a dissident to Chinese authorities which led to his arrest.
In 2013, Yahoo China had reportedly shut down a lot of its services including Yahoo mail, music, news, and community services. The company also closed its Beijing office in 2015 that was touted as a downsizing move.
China’s crackdown on technology firms (especially on data transfers)
In August, China passed its Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) containing the world’s most stringent data privacy controls. In brief, the law imposes strict data localisation mandates on technology companies and increases government ovesight of cross-border data transfers. The PIPL also says that foreign tech companies operating in China, and collecting its citizens’ data, must have a local entity or representative within China.
Read MediaNama’s in-depth summary of the law here.
In the months leading up to the law’s enactment, data protection issues have led to regulatory action against domestic and foreign tech companies.
May 2021: The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) found LinkedIn as well as Microsoft’s search engine Bing, to be among 100 apps that were engaged in the improper collection and use of data.
July 2021: WeChat or Weixin (as it is known in China) suspended registrations of new official and personal accounts on its platform. In a statement to Reuters, it said that this was because the company was currently upgrading its security technology to align with “all relevant laws and regulations.”
In the same month, citing serious violations regarding the collection and usage of personal data, the Cyberspace Administration of China ordered app stores to remove Didi Chuxing, the most popular ride-hailing app in China.
- LinkedIn quits China: Microsoft to launch standalone job search platform in its place
- Apple censors a Quran App and a Bible App at the behest of Chinese officials
- Apple App Store to face legal battle in China after Supreme Court gives nod
- #PrivacyNama2021: How is China’s data protection law different from EU’s GPDR?
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