Meituan Dianping probes massive user-data leak

By BLOOMBERG

HONG KONG • Meituan Dianping, the Internet giant backed by China’s most valuable tech corporation, has begun investigating reports of a data breach that exposed the private information of tens of thousands of users.

The food-delivery and e-commerce giant said it’s working with police to investigate an alleged leak that’s drawn fire from concerned consumers and again cast doubt on the ability of Chinese web firms to safeguard sensitive personal information. Local media reports highlighting the potential breach come as revelations about leaks at Facebook Inc spur a regulatory and consumer backlash against Internet companies around the globe.

In Meituan’s case, allegedly tens of thousands of data snippets — everything from names and mobile numbers to home addresses — on food-delivery customers went on sale online for as little as 0.1 yuan (six sen) per item, the Beijing News reported this week. The company, which counts social media leader Tencent Holdings Ltd among its backers, said it makes every effort to safeguard consumer privacy through internal control units and technical teams. But it acknowledged that the complexity of the business meant criminal parties could have accessed the data.

“Because of the multiple parties involved in food delivery, such as merchants and third-party delivery services, some unlawful participants might have been able to gain access to information,” it said in an emailed statement.