The cybersecurity regulator of China fined Didi Global Inc. $1.2 billion Thursday, ending a yearlong investigation into the ride-hailing giant.
In a statement, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said the firm had breached the country's cybersecurity, data security, and personal information protection laws. It even described the pieces of evidence as "conclusive" and added the "circumstances are serious, and the nature is vile."
CAC revealed investigators found Didi had committed 15 law violations, including illegally getting information from the users' smartphones and collecting data on facial recognition, age, jobs and family relationships.
Aside from the $1.19 billion penalty, the regulator also imposed a personal fine of $147,000, approximately 1 million yuan, on Didi chairman and CEO Cheng Wei and president Liu Qing, also known as Jean Liu.
To recall, CAC banned Didi from app stores in the country following the company's $4.4 billion IPO on Wall Street on June 30, 2021. The regulator then launched an investigation into its handling of customer data.
Authorities alleged Didi of breaking privacy laws and posing risks to cybersecurity. Under pressure from Chinese regulators, the firm announced in December 2021 that it would kick off the process of delisting from the NYSE and pivot to Hong Kong.
Shareholders of Didi voted to authorize the company to be delisted from the NYSE in May.
Following the CAC announcements, Didi Global released a statement Thursday, saying it "sincerely" accepts the regulator's imposition of administrative penalties.
"We sincerely accept this decision, and resolutely obey it. We will strictly follow the penalty decision and the requirements of relevant laws and regulations, conduct comprehensive and in-depth self-examination, and actively cooperate with supervision and complete rectification carefully," Didi said.
"We will take this as a warning and further strengthen the construction of cyberspace security and data security, strengthen the protection of personal information, and earnestly fulfill our social responsibilities. We will serve every passenger, driver and partner well, and realize the safe, healthy and sustainable development of the enterprise," it added.
For starters, the regulatory action against Didi was part of a wider and unprecedented crackdown on violations of antitrust and data rules targeting some of the best-known Chinese corporate names. Authorities, in recent months, have changed their tone towards the crackdown as they seek to boost a COVID-19 pandemic-stricken economy.
Didi's $1.2 billion fine would be the largest regulatory penalty imposed on a Chinese technology firm since CAC fined on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Meituan -- $2.75 billion and $527 million, respectively -- in 2021.