Tencent’s WeChat said on Tuesday it is temporarily suspending registration of new users in China as it works to comply with “relevant laws and regulations,” the latest Chinese firm to face regulatory scrutiny in the world’s largest internet market.
In a social media post, Tencent said it is “upgrading” its security technology to align with all relevant laws and regulations and while this process in underway “registration of new Weixin personal and official accounts has been temporarily suspended.”
“Registration services will be restored after the upgrade is complete, which is expected in early August,” the company, which has amassed over 1.2 billion monthly active users in Chin a as of earlier this year, said in a statement.
It’s not immediately clear which law WeChat is citing in its announcement but the move comes at a time amid a broad crackdown on tech firms by Chinese regulators. The crackdown has wiped hundreds of billions of dollars in market cap for Chinese firms and many high-profile global investors including SoftBank are impacted.
This is the first time WeChat, which operates as a super-app in China, has had to take a step of this kind in more than a decade. In addition to offering a messaging service, Weixin (WeChat’s name in China), also allows users to make online payments and access a range of financial services.
Some analysts believe that the Chinese government is concerned about the growing influence of tech firms in the country and also the privacy of its citizens’ data.
Earlier this month, China’s cybersecurity regulator ordered ride-hailing giant app Didi to stop signing up new users. That move had come days after Didi’s $4.4 billion initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. Didi’s app, which has been pulled from the app stores in China, illegally collecting personal data of its customers, the regulator accused.
This is a developing story. More to follow…