Arkansas AG lawsuit claims Temu’s shopping app is ‘dangerous malware’

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Temu Under Fire: Arkansas Attorney General Alleges App Violates Data Privacy, Calls It "Dangerous Malware"

Temu, the rapidly growing e-commerce app owned by Chinese tech giant Pinduoduo, is facing serious allegations of deceptive practices and data privacy violations. Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, accusing the company of violating state law against deceptive trade practices by using its app to surreptitiously collect vast amounts of sensitive user data.

Griffin’s lawsuit paints a stark picture, claiming that Temu’s app is not simply a shopping platform but potentially a dangerous malware program with the ability to access virtually all data on a user’s phone. “Temu purports to be an online shopping platform, but it is dangerous malware, surreptitiously granting itself access to virtually all data on a user’s cell phone,” Griffin alleges. The lawsuit claims Temu’s app is more insidious than Pinduoduo, the company’s previous app, which was removed from Google’s Play Store for exploiting vulnerabilities in users’ phone operating systems.

Temu’s alleged data collection practices have raised serious concerns about potential misuse of sensitive information. The lawsuit cites an article from Grizzly Research, a firm focused on public company due diligence, which found that the Temu app can override users’ data privacy settings and hack into their phones. This suggests that Temu may be able to bypass security measures intended to protect users’ personal information.

The lawsuit details how Temu misleads users into granting app permissions to access sensitive data, such as location, audio recordings, and camera footage. It alleges that Temu asks for permissions under the guise of a specific function, like photo uploads, while actually gaining access to a much broader range of data. This deceptive tactic, according to the lawsuit, allows Temu to exploit users’ trust and gather information beyond what is necessary for its intended service.

The AG’s concerns are not isolated. Last year, Apple raised concerns about Temu’s compliance with data security transparency standards, before allowing the app on its App Store. The lawsuit points to these concerns as evidence that Temu potentially prioritizes data collection over user privacy.

Temu, Google, and Apple have not yet responded to requests for comment regarding the allegations in the lawsuit. However, the lawsuit’s accusations are a major blow to Temu’s burgeoning reputation in the United States. Since its launch in September 2022, Temu has gained significant popularity for its ultra-low prices, attracting millions of users with its vast selection of goods. This rapid growth, fueled by social media marketing and influencer campaigns, has propelled Temu to become a prominent player in the e-commerce landscape.

The lawsuit’s implications extend beyond Temu. The situation underscores the growing concern about the potential misuse of data by mobile applications, particularly those developed in China. As more consumers embrace online shopping, the need for transparency and accountability in data collection practices becomes increasingly critical.

This case could have far-reaching consequences for the industry. If Griffin’s accusations hold up, Temu may face significant legal and reputational consequences. The case could also prompt further scrutiny of other popular e-commerce apps, potentially leading to more stringent data privacy regulations and greater transparency from app developers.

Here are some key takeaways from the lawsuit:

  • Temu’s app is accused of being "dangerous malware" that surpasses even the data collection capabilities of Pinduoduo.
  • The suit claims that Temu collects far more data than necessary, including sensitive personal information without obtaining appropriate user consent.
  • The lawsuit points to Apple’s previous concerns about Temu’s data security practices, further supporting the claims of deceptive data collection.
  • The case raises major concerns about user privacy in the context of e-commerce apps, especially those developed in China.
  • The lawsuit could potentially set a precedent for holding e-commerce platforms accountable for deceptive data collection and privacy violations.

The allegations against Temu are serious, and they raise important questions about data security and user privacy in the age of mobile commerce. The lawsuit will likely lead to further investigation and scrutiny of Temu’s practices, ultimately impacting its ability to operate and grow in the United States. This case will undoubtedly contribute to an ongoing debate about how to protect user data in a rapidly evolving digital landscape.

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David Green
David Green
David Green is a cultural analyst and technology writer who explores the fusion of tech, science, art, and culture. With a background in anthropology and digital media, David brings a unique perspective to his writing, examining how technology shapes and is shaped by human creativity and society.