Eighteen months after its app was suspended in China, amusement ride giant Didi returned on Monday. The move came as China showed signs of easing its sweeping regulatory crackdown on the internet sector over the past three years.
In July 2021, Chinese authorities ordered the country’s app stores to remove Didi, citing reasons the platform was “illegally collecting user data”. Earlier that same month, Didi went public in New York. It was a short-lived celebration for the company, which raised $4 billion from the first sale, as the event quickly turned out to be the root of its clash with Beijing.
Didi, according to multiple reports and an investor note seen by TechCrunch at the time, failed to assure the government that its cross-border data practices were secure before going public in the United States, where the data of hundreds millions of Chinese citizens could allegedly face intense scrutiny. The misstep led to a year-and-a-half-long security investigation by China’s top cyberspace watchdog.
It appears that Didi’s period of repentance and rectification is over, as the company announced on Weibo on Monday afternoon:
“Our company has taken serious steps to cooperate with the country’s cybersecurity review, address the security issues uncovered in the investigation, and implement comprehensive rectifications.”
With the approval of the Cybersecurity Review Board, a relatively new body appointed to address data security concerns posed by internet companies, Didi was allowed to resume new user registration for Didi Chuxing, his main transport platform, with immediate effect.
Along with a data overhaul, Didi was also reportedly fined $1 billion for breaking the rules. It completed its delisting from the United States in May last year and is working to relist on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, an increasingly preferable choice for Chinese tech companies facing rising tensions. American-Chinese.
Before the user registration relaunch, Didi users could still use the app if they already had it on their phone. But the app has been besieged by hungry rivals. Alibaba-owned mapping service AutoNavi, for example, has gained ground as an aggregator of third-party transportation services, including Didi.
The era of unfettered growth in the transportation space is also long gone. China has tightened regulatory oversight of this new business in recent years, bringing it more in line with the traditional state-owned taxi industry.
Following the regulatory overhaul, Didi will surely be much more careful on the government’s red line.
“Going forward, the company will apply effective methods to ensure the security of platform infrastructure and big data to protect national cybersecurity,” she said in the Weibo post.
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