US senators want Tencent-backed Internet of Things firm Tuya sanctioned, calling the Chinese platform a security threat
- Three Republican senators say Tuya is required by law to turn Americans’ data over to Beijing, a frequently cited concern in the US
- Tuya denied the claims, saying its user data is regionally isolated and has never been requested by foreign governments
Three US senators are urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to sanction Chinese Internet of Things (IoT) company Tuya Smart, calling the New York-listed company a national security threat that undermines Americans’ privacy.
“Cyber and national security experts have already raised significant concerns about Tuya’s lack of protections over users’ data,” the senators wrote. “However, there is also a more basic reality that, as a [People’s Republic of China] company, Tuya is obligated to comply with [Communist Party] orders, including requests to share American and other users’ data with the Chinese government.”
To do nothing, the senators argued, would mean “continuing to provide Beijing a direct line to Americans’ private data”, helping the country’s exploitation of IoT vulnerabilities.
Tuya said the senators’ claims were “without merit” because the company isolates all user data regionally, including in the US. “Tuya has never received a request from one country’s government to share user data from another country,” Tuya told the Post on Saturday.
“We take compliance with all security and privacy laws seriously and strive to abide by the laws in all markets where we operate – including the United States and China. Tuya is prepared to aggressively defend itself against any claims to the contrary.”
Tuya, which operates an IoT cloud platform that connects a wide range of smart devices, raised US$915 million in its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange in March. It was the second largest US IPO by a Chinese firm this year.
The order bans Americans from investing in companies identified by the US Department of Defense as having ties to the Chinese military. Biden expanded the ban to 59 companies with his June order, which went into effect on August 2, giving Americans a year to divest shares in the listed companies.
Concerns over Chinese equities have been heightened this year as a prolonged crackdown from Beijing regulators on China’s tech sector have sent stocks plummeting in Hong Kong and New York.