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Lawyer M Ravi engaged to represent plaintiffs in class action lawsuit against Chinese tech giant Tencent in Singapore

Lawyer M Ravi

Singaporean human rights lawyer Ravi Madasamy, known as M Ravi, has been engaged to represent plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Tencent International Service Pte Ltd, the Singapore entity of Chinese tech giant Tencent, over alleged breaches of privacy via its instant messaging and payments app WeChat.

In a Facebook post on Friday (29 January), Mr Ravi said that he has been instructed by Times Wang — the lead counsel in the lawsuit — to serve court documents and papers on Tencent.

“This is my first international human rights law case on breach of privacy and on surveillance. I am glad to assist Times Wang and to be part of of this international team,” said Mr Ravi.

Mr Wang, who is based in Washington D.C., represents the group of California-based plaintiffs comprising United States citizens and Chinese nationals, as well as pro-democracy nonprofit organisation Citizen Power Initiatives for China.

Besides privacy breaches, among other alleged violations raised by the plaintiffs are unjust enrichment, negligence, unfair competition and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The plaintiffs alleged that Tencent, via WeChat, had been relaying private user data and communications to the Chinese government, profiting from using private user data and communications to improve censorship and surveillance algorithms, and censoring or monitoring WeChat user communications for any messages critical of the Chinese government, among other instances.

Certain provisions in Tencent’s terms of service and privacy policy, the plaintiffs said, are “deliberately vague and ambiguous with respect to whether the challenged practices are permitted or prohibited”, which in turn benefits Tencent by “reserving to it the right to adopt self-interested interpretations”.

Highlighting that other platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail are blocked in China, the plaintiffs pointed out that “no reasonable alternative” to WeChat currently exists “for anyone wishing to maintain regular contact with the Chinese-speaking world”.

“By comparison, most other methods are either expensive or inefficient, or require the person inside the PRC to circumvent government controls, or both,” they said.

Tencent’s “effective monopoly”, said the plaintiffs, leave California WeChat users “no meaningful choice but to accept the challenged practices and provisions as a condition of using WeChat”.

“Thus, because the challenged provisions require California WeChat users to sacrifice a panoply of speech, privacy, and other rights as a condition of using WeChat, these requirements are unconscionable and void against public policy,” the plaintiffs argued.

Among the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs in their lawsuit against Tencent are a declaratory judgment that the challenged provisions are unlawful, an injunction requiring all California WeChat users to be able to use WeChat without being subject to politically motivated censorship and surveillance, and an injunction requiring Tencent to prevent California WeChat user data from being used to improve WeChat’s censorship and surveillance systems.

Tencent International Service Pte Ltd was named as one of the defendants in the lawsuit initiated by the California plaintiffs, alongside Tencent America LLC.

Tencent International Service Pte Ltd is the relevant contracting entity for WeChat users residing in California, according to WeChat’s terms of service.

Both Tencent International Service Pte Ltd and Tencent America LLC operate or participate in running WeChat in California.

Tencent’s website states that Tencent America LLC’s work “include[s] advertising, artificial intelligence, cloud services, entertainment, investments, payments, and security”.

Its “artificial intelligence,” “cloud services,” and “security” work includes assisting with the development, operation, and improvement of the censorship and surveillance practices and policies being challenged by the plaintiffs in their lawsuit against Tencent.

 

* Editorial by Online Citizen Asia.

 

 

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5 Responses to “Lawyer M Ravi engaged to represent plaintiffs in class action lawsuit against Chinese tech giant Tencent in Singapore”

  • From kampong to White House:

    /// This is my first international human rights law case on breach of privacy and on surveillance. I am glad to assist Times Wang and to be part of of this international team,” said Mr Ravi ///

    Ravi, our Kampong Boy (Ravi’s published book, if you dont know) is finally reaching the door steps of US Dept of Justice (DOJ), where this case will be closely watched by US Security agencies as the US Govt has been trying to get rid of all China Apps which are seen as a threat to national security, as alleged by the Trump Administration. I wont be surprised if DOJ invites M Ravi to sit in the panel of global experts on the planned Wechat/TikTok ban in the US.

    Ravi’s representation and legal arguments against China Apps in this Tencent class suit, will make all Singaporeans proud of our contributions to global issues against spying by state government.

    With such global exposure, Ravi will be the only outstanding Human Rights Singaporean lawyer who can take on such Tech Giants in protecting basic human rights.

    Hope a class suit also happens in Singapore against the use of Trace Together device to track Singaporeans movements. This is a violation of basic human rights and a clear betrayal of trust we had with the PAP Govt.

    Anyway, let’s extend our best wishes to M Ravi on the Tencent case.

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  • TEMUSIK PATRIOT:

    Same MONOPOLY worldwide RIGHT HERE in SINgapore…a little DOT easily and well CONtrolled…and claiming World Wide success as an example of SUCCESS???

    Success my Arse…the Arsehole & holes cannot even cross the Causeway and make a Success getting BOOTED out in the Process

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  • xoxo:

    No easy task but whats there to be afraid if one holds to TRUTH?

    WINNING OR LOSING,what does it really matter?
    What matters is that one upholds TRUTH.

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  • Most class-action suits are settled out of court with the payment of millions of dollars.

    Tencent’s founder Pony ma is as rich as Jack Ma and can afford to lose a few millions without feeling anything, so does its largest shareholders, which is an African consortium as loaded as Alibaba’s SoftBank.

    The predictable result would be Tencent agrees to throw a few million dollars of loose change to the plaintiffs and everyone laughs to the bank.

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Reported on Malaysianow.com :Quote-”Singapore woman faces death by firing squad in China
    But details of Siti Aslinda Junaidi’s case are sketchy.

    Our Regional Correspondent
    Dec 15, 2020 8:00 AM

    Police parade prisoners during an execution rally at a stadium in Kunming, the capital of China’s southwestern Yunnan province, in this file picture taken on June 26, 2001. Photo: AFP
    A Singapore woman has been sentenced to execution by firing squad over a drug offence by a court in China, but there have been few details about her case, complicating efforts by her family to provide legal services in her appeal.

    It is understood that Siti Aslinda Junaidi, 35, was arrested in Shenzhen, China, six years ago for drug trafficking. She had been accompanying her boyfriend who was caught carrying the drugs.

    Her counsel, prominent human rights lawyer and activist M Ravi, has written to the Singapore foreign ministry for more details about her case.

    There were earlier claims that no lawyer was engaged to defend her following her arrest, and no representative from the Singapore government had visited her over the past year.

    “I can assure you that all these years nothing has been done.”
    Ravi, a rare dissenting voice in Singapore who is spearheading a campaign to abolish the death penalty in the city-state, said he was informed that Aslinda’s execution by firing squad would be carried out in two weeks’ time.

    When contacted, Aslinda’s 17-year-old daughter Ismiraldha said there had been a lack of documentation on her mother’s case.

    M Ravi.
    “What I can say is that when this happened, I was just 12 years old. I’m not too sure.

    “But I can assure you that all these years nothing has been done,” Ismiraldha told MalaysiaNow.

    She said her mother is currently detained at the Shenzhen Detention Centre in the Guangdong province in south China.

    She added that the Singapore government through the consulate-general office in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, has been making a S$100 remittance to her mother every month since her arrest.

    Ravi, in his letter to the Singapore foreign ministry, had asked for the reason behind the monthly payment..”Unquote .

    Response :”..said he was informed that Aslinda’s execution by firing squad would be carried out in two weeks’ time..”

    I thought M Ravi is sort of involved handling the case .So how come M Ravi never inform whether this e*** woman b**$* that traffick drugs is hanged already or not in China since Dec 15,2020 ?

    As our law previously announce out that crimes offences overseas can again be charged again when culprit return to Singapore .Maybe that b**$* Minister of Law Kasisviswanathan Shanmugam explain the law to us so that we all can understand better .If,if ,if this drug woman Siti Aslinda Junaidi,was not hanged in China and when she return to Singapore ,will the law again follow law by law to charge and hanged her head in Singapore for drug trafficking is an offence Singapore law cannot ignore ?

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