With the recent passing of World Consumer Rights Day on 15 March, the Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court has withdrawn its lawsuit against Baidu, Inc., the operator of China’s largest online search engine and mobile app.
A litigation was filed against Baidu in January, 2018, for illegally gaining consumers’ personal data and invading their privacy, this included personal contacts, text messages, and phone calls, as well as giving consumers’s information to telemarketers.
In terms of monitoring consumers’ personal phone calls, Baidu denied the allegations, saying, “[the apps] do not have the capability of monitoring phone calls”.
Baidu stated it was aware of the litigations and that it is “within the scope of reasonable use” to access users information in certain situations, reported the South China Morning Post.
Since the filing of the lawsuit, Baidu has re-evaluated its applications, both mobile app and search engine, to ensure consumers’ privacy and not cross any legal lines.
In February, Baidu went public with its app’s new changes that now respect consumer privacy, in addition to not forwarding personal contact information to telemarketers. As of earlier this week, “The committee withdrew its suit”, reported Xinhua News.
Behind the scenes, however, it may not all be smiley faces. Consumer data represents a large chunk of the big data pie over which the three Internet giants of China (Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent) have been waging all out war over the past few years.
With the recent withdrawal of the lawsuit and persistent changes for the betterment of consumer privacy taking place since February, Baidu has turned over a new leaf and is perhaps ready to take back its role as China’s largest and most dependable search engine.