Taobao Taiwan's ownership structure, privacy protections in question

07/20/2020 02:43 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, July 20 (CNA) The Investment Commission under the Ministry of Economic Affairs said Sunday it is investigating the ownership structure and user privacy protections of the e-commerce website Taobao to see if the company had violated Taiwanese law.

Taobao Taiwan was launched last year by Claddagh Venture Investment Co., a company registered in the United Kingdom and allegedly linked to Taobao Marketplace in China, which is run by the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.

According to a local media report, Taobao Taiwan shares a platform with Taobao in China, which means there is technically no independence.

Furthermore, the two companies have a common privacy policy, a situation that has given rise to concerns over the privacy and security of Taiwan consumers' personal information, the report said.

An Investment Commission official said the commission, in collaboration with Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), has been gathering data and information in a probe into those matters and the issue of Taobao Taiwan's ownership structure.

Under Taiwan law, any Taiwan company with a direct or indirect stake of more than 30 percent must obtain permission from the Taiwan government before its establishment, the official said.

Meanwhile, Ko Chung-ning (柯中甯), a spokesman for Taobao Taiwan, denied the allegations that Taobao Taiwan and Taobao Marketplace share a platform and privacy agreement.

The two companies have different platforms, and consumers who register on Taobao Taiwan do not need to sign a privacy agreement with Taobao Marketplace in China, Ko said.

He said some products on Taobao Taiwan are sold by overseas suppliers, and the privacy agreement is aimed at regulating those companies and ensuring the quality of their products sold to Taiwan consumers.

The terms of the agreement apply mainly to overseas suppliers, not to shoppers in Taiwan, he stressed.

Taobao Taiwan sells a wide selection of products, ranging from clothing and stationery to kitchenware and home appliances.

(By Pan Chi-yi, Wu Chia-jung and Evelyn Kao)

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