WeChat/WeiXin - www.wechat.com

Contract Title WeChat - Users Outside China
Contract Website www.wechat.com
Contract Application WeChat app / 微信
Contract Type app with website
Contract Date 11/13/2015
TOS Website wechat.com/mobile/htdocs/en/service_terms.html
Total Rating 55.56

Total Page Count 34

Terms: 13 pages; Privacy: 17 pages; Acceptable Use: 4 pages. And this isn't even all the agreements you are agreeing to! Inexcusably long.

The Right to Privacy 0 out of 5

NOTE: There are two WeChats: one for residents of China either in China or overseas, and also for foreigners in China (based in HongKong), and then there is another WeChat for those who are outside China who are not Chinese nationals (based in Singapore, but apparently still applying Hong Kong law). So depending on where you are, you are operating under a totally different terms of service. So far, I have only reviewed the TOS & Privacy for the WeChat based in Singapore. Later I will work on the TOS for those in China.

BAD ASPECTS: There are two different TOS & Privacy Policies, clearly because they must comply with a stricter set of terms in communist China. They sell your personal information. On p6, there is a murky clause called "Retained Information Purposes" and it's murky because it's unclear what information is being shared with the Chinese government. I am sure all of it. They make it clear that they keep track of what you search for, who you visited, who you talk to, what you talk about, when and where you talked to them, all videos, voice recordings, etc. It's unclear what happens to all this data. It's unclear if the laws of Singapore prevent sharing of information with the Chinese government, but in all likelihood, your data is probably stored on servers in China too, which of course, would then be easily accessible by the Chinese government. On Page 12 of the Privacy Policy: "Please note that your right to access Personal Information in the above manner may be limited in some circumstances by local law requirements." Doesn't clearly address account recovery and the cell phone porting problem.

GOOD ASPECTS: You can opt-out of them using your personal information, but only for ad purposes, meaning it probably still goes to the Chinese government somehow.

The Right to Equal, Fair, & Reasonable Expression 0 out of 5

BAD ASPECTS: It clearly says that you cannot promote a business, and yet everyone does. But, that clause means that they can kick you off if you do so. P 1 & 2 of the 'prohibited activities' on the acceptable use policy is exhausting to read. It also has undefined words like "hateful", "harassing", "abusive", "offensive", etc. which are wholly subjective, and therefore unfair. It is not clear at all what you can or cannot say. Terms are different depending where you live. Can't use WeChat if previously terminated. And as a former public defender, whenever I see a blanket lifetime ban on anyone who is a convicted sex offender, I cringe, because many such 'offenders' are harmless and of no threat to any adult or child. While I of course want a true sexual predator to be vetted (and denied, if appropriate), due to the often arbitrary nature of sex offender convictions, this should really be a case by case issue.

GOOD ASPECTS: You can't impersonate others.

The Right to Control My Intellectual Property 2 out of 5

BAD ASPECTS: they can modify anything you post and can distribute to any third parties. China doesn't have a great copyright and trademark protection record, though that is improving in recent years.

GOOD ASPECTS: All content owned by you. But, see above.

The Right to Sue 1 out of 5

Laws of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

BAD ASPECTS: You fully waive your right to sue in court.

GOOD ASPECTS: In some jurisdictions, you may still be able to bring a case in Small Claims Court locally.

The Right to Low-Cost Arbitration 2 out of 5

BAD ASPECTS: You are forced to arbitrate. Must be in Hong Kong via the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre.

GOOD ASPECTS: Arbitration will be in English. :D

The Right to Join a Class Action 1 out of 5

BAD ASPECTS: While not expressly waived, all issues must be brought via arbitration.

GOOD ASPECTS: Not expressly waived.

The Right to No Hidden Terms or Fees 2 out of 5

BAD ASPECTS: No refunds, but this is not clear upfront. Way too long!

GOOD ASPECTS: It's otherwise free, as long as you don't buy anything.

The Right to Fair Process & To Be Heard 1 out of 5

BAD ASPECTS: Can block or remove anyone or anything.

GOOD ASPECTS: While they (like most of these polices) offer no warranties, it's interesting that they do accept responsibility for fraud, death, personal injury, gross negligence, willful misconduct, etc caused by them. That's very surprising (in a good way). On p11: "Nothing in these terms limits or excludes any of your statutory rights in your jurisdiction".

The Right to Appeal & The Right to Return 0 out of 5

BAD ASPECTS: There is no right to appeal, and no right to return.


The Right to Reasonable Terms 1 out of 5

BAD ASPECTS: Too many policies that you have to read: Terms of Service, Acceptable Use, Privacy Policy, Sticker License Agreement, Chat History Backup Agreement, and more. Way too long and cumbersome!

GOOD ASPECTS: It's hard to find. It's free?

Historical Fairness 5.56 out of 10
Historical User Ratings 10.0 out of 10
Historical Lack of Lawsuits or Arbitrations 10.0 out of 10
Public Placement of TOS Fairness Score & Link 20.0 out of 20
Total Rating 55.56 out of 100
Additional Note

Emails: policy@wechat.com; eufeedback@wechat.com; I wish they would be more clear what information is actually shared with the government of China. I know: all of it. But precisely, what is the government actually doing with this info?

Ways to improve

1. Be more transparent. See 'additional note' above.
2. More people should know that there are different TOS terms for different nationalities and in different places.
3. Clarify the 'you cannot promote a business on WeChat' policy, because you know that everyone does so.
4. You should explain how China's IP policies and lax laws affect users.
5. You should explain how and if Singapore laws come into play at all.
6. You should explain to non-Chinese users the main ways that the terms differ for both parties.
7. You should allow people to sue, and from their home cities, worldwide. Arbitration should also be permitted worldwide.
8. You need to make it clear up front that there are no refunds.
9. Establish fair process and a right to be heard.
10. Establish an appeals process and a right to return.
11. Add your TOS rating and link to your TOS page as outlined in our guidelines. You currently are being given all 20 points.

Review Status Completed

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