'Skeptical' data expert says she would not give up her personal details to Temu for £50

27 March 2024, 16:16 | Updated: 27 March 2024, 16:17

Data expert Laura Kankaala is "skeptical" of the Chinese-owned e-commerce app
Data expert Laura Kankaala is "skeptical" of the Chinese-owned e-commerce app. Picture: F-secure/GettyImages

By Flaminia Luck

A data expert with more than ten years experience in cyber security said she would "not feel comfortable" sharing her details with the shopping app Temu in exchange for roughly £50.

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Twitter was flooded by social media users in disbelief at "too good to be true" offer which has seen some people make up to £100 in exchange for simply signing up.

However, the giveaway has certain terms and conditions, which involve Temu's right to use the person's "photo, name likeness, voice, opinions, statements, biographical information, and/or hometown and state" worldwide.

Laura Kankaala told LBC she is "skeptical" and would not personally give up her details as it is not clear "how or why" the information will be used.

"For a shopping app to get access to this kind of information is very weird," she said.

Laura Kankaala is a threat intelligence lead with a back­ground in offensive security
Laura Kankaala is a threat intelligence lead with a back­ground in offensive security. Picture: F-secure

Ms Kankaala also said it was "unusual" for the Chinese-owned app to want this kind of access especially as it is not a social media site.

She added it was "not needed" and that "such personal, private data", such as people's voice, involve the "things that make you you".

Read more: Sunak under mounting pressure over ‘feeble’ response to China after two ‘malicious’ cyber hacks

She added that Temu has been "vague" in how it plans to use the information.

"I really want to emphasise that I think Temu needs to be more transparent", she said, adding that people should know in order to make "informed choices".

In terms of how the information may be used in the future, Ms Kankaala said people would have to "wait and see".

She added data is "very valuable" and that the information could be used for ultra-tailored advertising.

Temu's Cash reward official rules
Temu's Cash reward official rules. Picture: Temu/X

The criticism comes as scrutiny into China from a cyber-security perspective grows.

On Monday, Deputy PM Oliver Dowden said that Chinese state-affiliated actors were responsible for two "malicious" cyber hacks which targeted "both our democratic institutions and parliamentarians".

Mr Dowden said the attempts were "unsuccessful" and claimed Britain would not tolerate any further campaigns. Two individuals and a company in Wuhan were sanctioned.

Tory MPs have been calling on the Government to adopt a tougher stance on China, including by limiting trade and increasing sanctions.

In the US, the US House of Representatives has passed a landmark bill that could see TikTok banned.

Lawmakers have long held concerns about China's influence over the app which has roughly 150 million users.

Read more: China has penetrated 'every sector' of the UK's economy, Parliamentary committee warns

Temu has not been known to share its data with the Chinese authorities though the brand does have broad access to its users' profiles.

Their privacy policy states: "At Temu, we care deeply about privacy.

"While Temu shares your personal information for the purposes of targeted advertising, which may be considered a "sale" under applicable privacy laws, Temu does not "sell" personal information in the traditional sense."

A spokesperson previously said: "Temu gathers user information solely for the purpose of delivering our service and to enhance customer experience. We do not sell user information. 

"The terms and conditions highlighted are commonplace in similar promotions held by various companies across different sectors."

Temu app allows users to "shop like a billionaire"
Temu app allows users to "shop like a billionaire". Picture: Alamy

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