Okay, ignore the fact that we’ve used a Japanese video game to illustrate this story about Chinese app WeChat and its parent company Tencent being sued. It’s not some socio-political statement, it’s just ye olde internet meme (circa 2008).
But the legal action being taken by Beijing prosecutors against Tencent is a little more serious. The tech-maker is already in the Chinese government’s crosshairs, despite rolling out facial recognition technology that’s supposed to limit the time kids spend playing video games.
Can’t WeChat about this?
Tencent, according to reporters at Reuters, is being sued over the ‘youth mode’ in WeChat which apparently does not conform to Chinese laws designed to protect minors. The lawsuit’s filing doesn’t actually explain how or why it believes this to be the case, however. Which is always a great start to legal proceedings.
“Come on, admit that you did it!”
“Did what?! Nobody will tell me what I did!
“Well, if you don’t know, we’re not gonna tell ya.
Okay, so it’ll probably receive a little more explanation than that when Beijing’s Haidian District People’s Procuratorate actually gets Tencent into a courtroom but the ‘youth mode’ the Chinese government is taking issue with is supposed to limit access by minors to certain features within WeChat. Payments, the ability to find people nearby and (perhaps obviously) limitations on game times are part of its function.
It’s possible that the suit is an extension of a broader crackdown on tech in China. Besides Tencent having its gaming offerings compared to drugs, other tech giants in the region have been smacked in the gonads in varying ways over the past few months.