The Chinese social media site WeChat has informed users outside of China that their data will be saved on servers within the nation. On September 6, a number of foreign WeChat users were notified that "personal data (including) likes, comments, browsing and search history, content uploads, and so on" will be transmitted to China.
“I clicked through and … this message popped up, so I automatically clicked cancel,” she said. It’s becoming clear what the difference is between a democracy and a dictatorship.” She said the move would likely affect large numbers of Chinese nationals and emigres living overseas.
“Overseas Chinese have become very dependent on WeChat, but is it really that important?” she said. We can actually stop using it completely, so we shouldn’t let them confuse us. It’s really not that important.”
Faced with growing international concern about privacy protection, WeChat announced in September 2021 that it had "separated" its data storage facilities for domestic and international users, requiring overseas users to re-sign the terms and conditions in order to continue using the app, which many people rely on to send money to people in China, make Chinese yuan purchases, and stay in touch with friends and family.
However, according to RFA, former Sina Weibo censor Liu Lipeng, the shift was mostly cosmetic.
“Last year … WeChat re-signed its agreements with all overseas users, but everything on there except for one-to-one chats have to use WeChat protocols,” Liu said. “So the moment you click OK, you are back in (the Chinese version) again.”
“Everything you write is still available (to the Chinese authorities), so it’s basically sleight of hand. Nothing has changed,” he said. “You are still a WeChat user.” According to US-based legal scholar Teng Biao, WeChat's parent company Tencent, as well as all other internet service providers and social media platforms in China, are already required under China's Cybersecurity Law to assist the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with any data it claims it requires.