Trump administration reportedly questions Epic, Riot about Tencent investment

The US government has reportedly requested that domestic games companies who have received investment from Tencent share more information on their data security protocols.

Bloomberg reports that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has sent letters to League of Legends studio Riot and Fortnite maker Epic Games, asking about “their security protocols in handling Americans’ personal data.”

“Epic does not share user data with Tencent or any other company,” Epic CEO and co-founder Tim Sweeney said in response to such concerns in a December 2018 Reddit thread. “We don’t share it, sell it, or broker access to it for advertising like so many other companies do. I’m the founder and controlling shareholder of Epic and would never allow this to happen.”

“Tencent is a significant, but minority shareholder in Epic,” Sweeney added in another Reddit thread months later. “I’m the controlling shareholder of Epic… The decisions Epic makes are ultimately my decisions, made here in North Carolina based on my beliefs as a game developer about what the game industry needs!”

League of Legends developer Riot Games is wholly owned by Tencent, while the Chinese games giant has a 40% stake in Fortnite firm Epic Games.

Tencent also holds a 15% stake in US-based mobile developer Glu Mobile and 5% ownership of Activision Blizzard.

The news appeared shortly before the US Commerce Department issued an order requiring app stores to remove WeChat as well as ByteDance’s TikTok app on September 20th.

The order was primarily focused on transactions handled through the Tencent-owned social platform WeChat.

Last month, LA Times reporter Sam Dean said the White House had confirmed the executive order does not affect video game companies wholly or partially owned by Tencent.

The order against Tencent follows the ongoing scrutiny over TikTok, another Chinese-owned platform the government has expressed security concerns about.

The Trump administration hasn’t gone after other big Tencent properties so far, sparing popular games like League of Legends. The CFIUS investigation, however, could indicate greater scrutiny of companies with Tencent links.

We’ll update this as it develops.

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