Arkansas Sues Temu, Claims Chinese Shopping App Is Malware


Arkansas is suing the owners of Temu over claims the Chinese shopping app is secretly spyware

Attorney General Tim Griffin says Temu and its parent company, PDD Holdings, have been engaging in “deceptive trade practices” with their data-collection policies.

“Though it is known as an e-commerce platform, Temu is functionally malware and spyware,” Griffin said in a statement. “It is purposefully designed to gain unrestricted access to a user’s phone operating system. It can override data privacy settings on users’ devices, and it monetizes this unauthorized collection of data.”

To support the allegations, the lawsuit points to Google briefly suspending PDD’s Pinduoduo app after versions that were not in the Play Store were found to contain malware, and Apple temporarily pulling Temu from the iOS App Store for failing to follow the mandatory privacy rules on data tracking. 

That said, the document doesn’t provide direct evidence of any spying. Instead, it cites comments from third-party groups, including a short-selling firm, alarmed with the range of data that Temu can allegedly collect from a user’s phone

“In sum, Temu not only seeks a breathtaking array of sensitive data well beyond what would be necessary or even justifiable for a shopping app, but it does so in a way that is purposely secretive and intentionally designed to avoid detection,” the lawsuit says. 

Griffin also claims that Temu “is led by a cadre of former Chinese Communist Party officials, which raises significant security risks to our country and our citizens.” Specifically, he’s concerned that the Chinese government could force Temu to secretly spy on Americans.   

The allegations echo similar claims made against TikTok, which comes from the Chinese company ByteDance. In April, the US passed a law to ban TikTok over similar Chinese spying fears. As a result, the video-sharing app could be officially removed from app stores early next year unless ByteDance successfully challenges the law or decides to sell TikTok.

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For now, Griffin’s lawsuit against Temu is merely demanding that the Chinese shopping app stop the data collection and pay civil penalties. Nevertheless, at least a few Republican lawmakers have called on the Biden administration to investigate and ban Temu over the app’s alleged connections to forced labor and intellectual property theft. 

Temu didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But a company spokesperson told Fox Business that Griffin’s lawsuit was conducted “without any independent fact-finding.”

“The allegations in the lawsuit are based on misinformation circulated online, primarily from a short-seller, and are totally unfounded. We categorically deny the allegations and will vigorously defend ourselves,” the spokesperson added.

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