Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has come under fire over its handling of user data in an episode that underscores growing concerns for privacy in the country. Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial was forced to apologise after users said they felt misled into allowing its Alipay service to share data on their spending habits with Ant's credit-scoring arm and other third-party services. Ant Financial provides mobile payment, lending, and credit services to millions of Chinese consumers, and the controversy has featured prominently in China's state-controlled media this week. Consumers have come to expect a lack of privacy in a country where the government collects a file of personal data on each person. But many Chinese internet users reacted with unusual outrage to learn that Alipay, which is used by millions daily to make mobile and online purchases on Alibaba's Taobao platform and elsewhere, had automatically checked a box and hidden language showing they agreed to share their data.
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