Warning: Chinese shopping app Temu ‘harvests your data’
A new ultra-cheap Chinese shopping app taking Britain by storm could be illegally harvesting the data of phone users, claims a report.
Temu, pronounced tee-moo, offers shoppers cut-price products shipped directly from Chinese factories. It launched in the UK in April and has surged in popularity, becoming the most-downloaded app on Google’s Play Store following similar success in the US.
Distinguished by its bright orange logo, Temu is thought to have more than nine million users in the UK who have been drawn in by its ultra-low prices and free delivery.
Best-selling products on its website include touchscreen watches for £15.49 and water bottles for £2.48.
But alarm bells are ringing among analysts and observers of Chinese companies.
Concern: Distinguished by its bright orange logo, Temu is thought to have more than nine million users in the UK
This month, financial analyst Siegfried Eggert, the boss of US firm Grizzly Research, published a report claiming Temu was one of the ‘most dangerous’ popular apps, alleging it contained ‘aggressive’ programmes designed to harvest data.
Eggert also accused Temu’s owner, Chinese e-commerce giant PDD, of ‘intentionally’ hiding the software within the app.
‘We Believe Temu is the most dangerous app in wide circulation,’ the report said.
The claims threaten Temu’s explosive expansion, with the app having embarked on a marketing blitz this year targeting younger shoppers on social media platforms.
It is not the first Chinese-owned retail app to draw in overseas shoppers. The likes of clothing group Shein and online sellers Alibaba and Wish have adopted similar models in the past.
But Temu’s expansion has sparked warnings from politicians about the potential for Chinese apps to access UK consumers’ personal data, which could potentially end up in the hands of fraudsters or intelligence agencies in Beijing and elsewhere.
Lord Alton of Liverpool, a crossbench peer who has been banned from China, said the behaviour of apps such as Temu needed to be ‘urgently’ investigated. ‘The Government and regulators need to establish the risks to UK consumers of their data being harvested and shared with the Chinese Communist Party regime under its National Intelligence Law,’ he added.
PDD was based in Shanghai until recently. Its founder and boss, Colin Huang, is one of China’s richest people, with an estimated net worth of around £27.5 billion.
Temu was approached for comment last night.