Singapore — Lawyer M Ravi is helping to take on Chinese tech giant Tencent in his first international human rights law case on breach of privacy and on surveillance.
Mr Ravi wrote in a Facebook post on Friday afternoon (Jan 29) that his court clerk had served the court papers on Tencent in a lawsuit that began in the United States.
Tencent subsidiaries in the US and Singapore are named as the defendants.
He added that he was instructed by US lawyer Times Wang, who is the lead counsel representing a group of US citizens and Chinese nationals.
Tencent is the company behind the WeChat messaging-and-payments mobile application.
A group of plaintiffs in California filed the suit earlier in January.
The suit is seeking class-action status against Tencent over allegations that they have been censored and surveilled by WeChat and that their data has been shared to the authorities in China.
Mr Ravi added that he is glad to assist Mr Wang and to be part of the international team of lawyers.
He added a link to an article about the lawsuit in The Washington Post, which says that the plaintiffs claim their free-speech and privacy rights have been violated and that the company’s practices “unjustly enrich Tencent at the expense of California WeChat users”.
The suit was filed in the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara County.
The plaintiffs are hoping for court injunctions that would stop Tencent’s alleged actions. They are also asking that Tencent be ordered to pay compensatory damages to them for their financial loss, emotional trauma and psychological stress.
The court documents, obtained by TISG, show that the plaintiffs are six unnamed persons who are US and Chinese citizens, together with the group Citizen Power Initiatives for China (CPIFC).
“This case arises from Tencent’s practices of profiting from politically motivated, pro-Chinese Communist Party censorship and surveillance of California WeChat users, which includes the practice of turning over private user data and communications to the government of the People’s Republic of China…, and which inflicts an array of harms.”
According to the Washington Post article, Mr Wang said that the plaintiffs asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation from the Chinese authorities or others.
Among the plaintiffs are a translator, an entrepreneur and an installer of home security systems. /TISG
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