Fast fashion retailer Temu's Super Bowl ads drew the ire of lawmakers in Congress over the China-based company's links to products made using forced labor in Xinjiang, as well as its data-sharing policies.
Temu, which is linked to e-commerce company Pinduoduo through its shared parent company PDD Holdings, ran several ads that encouraged viewers to download its app so they could “shop like a billionaire” and qualify for $10 million in giveaways on the website.
Temu's Super Bowl ads cost about $7 million each — which was the going rate for 30-second ads during this year's big game — and are part of a $3 billion marketing effort this year, while the company seeks to gain market share from companies like Amazonas. The company also ran a Super Bowl ad last year in an attempt to gain market share among North American consumers.
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Members of Congress took to social media to denounce Temu's data practices and links to forced labor in China, while seeking to advise American consumers not to download the app.
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Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter: “Just like TikTok, Temu or any Chinese technology company must allow the Communist Party unfettered access to its data. doing business in the United States.”
Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., who is a member of the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party, wrote: “It's Super Bowl Sunday! While you watch this game, keep an eye out for ads Temu, a company that profits from CCP slave labor, should not be allowed to profit from manipulating American consumers.
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Rep. Kat Cammack, R-Fla., wrote in a post on X that the Super Bowl featuring a Temu commercial should “be a wake-up call to all Americans.” She added: “Temu is being sued for stealing customers' financial information and having spyware embedded in its app. All of this data is owned and controlled by the CCP. Do not download this app!”
Temu is facing class-action lawsuits in Illinois and New York that allege the company deceptively collected customer data through permissions that allowed it to access Bluetooth and Wi-Fi network information, as well as biometric data, and that it failed to protect these data appropriately.
Temu did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company previously denied it had lax privacy policies and failed to adequately protect customer data in response to the lawsuits.
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In June 2023, the House Select Committee on Strategic Competition between the US and the Chinese Communist Party announced the interim findings of an investigation into links between Temu and Shein, another China-based e-commerce platform, and products made with forced labor of Uyghurs and other persecuted ethnic minorities in the Chinese province of Xinjiang.
The report concluded that Temu and Shein exploited US de minimis provisions to evade customs enforcement. De minimis rules allow almost all of its products valued at less than $800 to enter the U.S. without inspection and free of the taxes that most American clothing brands pay. It also concluded that Temu lacks a system to ensure compliance with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Law.
Chairman Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., said in a statement at the time: “These results are shocking: Temu is doing almost nothing to keep its supply chains free from slave labor. At the same time, Temu and Shein are building empires around the de minimis loophole in our import rules – avoiding import taxes and escaping scrutiny on the millions of goods they sell to Americans.”
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Ranking Member Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., added, “The initial findings of this report are troubling and reinforce the need for full transparency from companies that potentially profit from CCP forced labor. Our Select Committee heard from experts under oath who These practices persist today and we aim to strengthen laws like the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to end them once and for all.”