The US has reportedly requested several US companies to provide information about their data screening protocols. These are companies in which the Chinese Tencent has interests, such as Epic Games and Riot. Presumably it revolves around concerns about data collection by China.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the US, part of the US Treasury Department, has sent letters to several companies asking them to provide information about their data protection policies regarding Americans’ personal data, Bloomberg writes based on sources. In any case, it would be Epic Games and Riot Games. This part of the US government usually conducts research into foreign acquisitions of US companies, specifically looking at national security risks.
The investigation as to whether the increased level of surveillance seems to fit in with the increased attention that President Trump’s administration has on the alleged Chinese data collection. In that context, the US has already proposed one trade ban on TikTok and WeChat, two Chinese-made apps. This trade ban will take effect on Sunday, already TikTok has now been granted an extension. In the drafted decree data collection and Chinese censorship within the apps are cited as the main reasons for the ban.
Tencent is also specifically mentioned in that decree. That raised the question of whether the ban would also apply to Epic Games and Riot Games, but the US government reportedly said that the WeChat trade ban does not also apply to other companies in which Tencent has an interest.
The US is concerned that the data collection will lead to the Chinese Communist Party gaining access to private information of Americans. That could then give China the opportunity to track down the location of officials, thus giving the country the opportunity to build up blackmail files and engage in corporate espionage.
Tencent is the largest game company in China, owning 40 percent of Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite. A small percentage of Activision-Blizzard is also owned by the Chinese company. Riot Games, the developer behind League of Legends and Valorant, is wholly owned by Tencent. The Chinese company also invested $ 150 million in Reddit in 2019 and has stakes in Discord and Snap.