Recently, Tencent issued a notice to official account developers, requesting them to look into an issue whereby consumers are required to follow official WeChat accounts in order to order food by scanning a QR code.
The developers are asked to make timely rectifications in order to provide users with a better ordering experience. Tencent will start checking such problems on January 17, 2022, at which time official WeChat accounts deemed to have breached the policy will be limited in their ability to be accessed via QR codes.
An article published by the China Consumers Association in March pointed out that the practice of requiring customers to scan codes to order food is suspected of representing an over-collection of consumers’ personal information, thereby infringing consumer rights. In addition, the article contends that failing to provide on-site menus is detrimental to consumers’ right to know, and that the application of new technologies should not become an obstacle for special consumer groups.
The Shanghai Consumers Council also proposed that ordering by scanning codes should be based on the premise of obtaining as little consumer information as possible, if any, and restaurants should also provide alternative manual ordering options.
As a matter of fact, as early as August this year, WeChat officially issued a notice proposing industry participants to complete a self-inspection of merchant service processes to protect consumers’ rights and interests.
According to the notice, merchants should do two things when carrying out business activities. First: fully respect users’ right to choose. Forced code scanning, the required following of official WeChat accounts and the unwarranted sending of commercial publicity are prohibited. Second: strictly protect users’ data security and collect information according to the principles of legality, legitimacy and necessity.