Thursday, July 18, 2024

Temu’s invasive data practices threaten Montana’s privacy

by Shelley Vance
| June 16, 2024 12:00 AM

It seems nowadays that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is doing everything in its power to hack, spy, and surveil the United States and its citizens. The examples of their surveillance capacity keep piling up — from the infamous spy balloon, to the outright ban on cellphones and communications equipment manufactured by Huawei, to the enormous data collection conducted on Americans by TikTok.  Underlying all of these instances is a malicious intent to manipulate and undermine our country.

Fortunately, Montana has been leading the charge against the CCP.  Montana was the first state to ban the Chinese-owned app “TikTok,” a move finally copied by the federal government just last month. And in May 2023, Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill prohibiting “the sale or lease of agricultural land, critical infrastructure, and homes near military installations by Montana entities to foreign adversaries,” especially the CCP.

However, these moves may not be enough to protect Montanans from China’s ever-increasing encroachment. Recently, serious red flags have been raised about the CCP’s newest infiltration and data-collecting app, a retail platform called Temu,

Temu is an online retailer headquartered in China and answerable to the CCP.  Alarmingly, it is already operating on over 100 million Americans’ phones.  This platform, known for its invasive nature, harvests vast amounts of personal information from American consumers and accesses nearly everything on your phone. It’s following the exact same playbook as TikTok, and presents the same dangers to Americans.

Temu and other Chinese companies that are in Beijing’s grasp are more than likely a “coordinated effort to gather targeted data on foreign users that can be used to bolster misinformation campaigns and other state propaganda work abroad,” according to The Washington Post.

It has also been revealed that Temu is required to hand over any data and information to the CCP in compliance with China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, which gives Beijing unfettered access to sensitive U.S. information and data. To make matters worse, in 2023, the company was involved in a malware scandal that resulted in a suspension from the Google Play Store.

While TikTok has dominated the news headlines recently, the same, if not more, attention and scrutiny should be directed towards Temu. Given Temu’s growing popularity and its nearly $2 billion marketing and customer acquisition budget, now is the time to take decisive action to protect Americans against this new threat.

With the support of our federal delegation, we, as Montanans, can stand up to the CCP’s predatory actions and demonstrate that we mean business when it comes to protecting ourselves and our neighbors.  With Temu presenting a similar threat as we saw from TikTok, the federal government should move swiftly to address Temu.

Sen. Shelley Vance, R-Bozeman. She carried the successful SB 419 in 2023 to ban Tik-Tok in Montana.