June 2, 2017 / 7:38 AM / 3 years ago

China postal authority calls for end to data spat between Alibaba unit, SF Holdings

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s postal authority has asked SF Holding Co and Alibaba Holding Group Ltd’s logistics unit, two of the nation’s top logistics players, to end a spat that disrupted deliveries when the two firms abruptly cut ties on Thursday.

SF is one of several top logistics firms that have a strategic partnership with Alibaba’s Cainiao Network, which supports an app that allows users to track and pay for deliveries and links directly to Alibaba’s top e-commerce platform Taobao.

The firms severed a data sharing agreement on Thursday following SF’s claims the Alibaba unit had requested user data not related to the current partnership, a claim Cainiao denies.

China’s State Post Bureau said on its website it was communicating with both firms and urged the two sides to seek a diplomatic resolution to safeguard against “serious social impacts and negative side effects”.

The split highlights the stiff competition in China over hotly-contested user data assets, as top internet players including Alibaba and Tencent Holdings Group Ltd consolidate increasingly powerful cloud and big data ecosystems.

The State Post Bureau said agricultural shipments were among those affected, including deliveries of fresh fruit. On Thursday Cainiao urged users and merchants to select alternative logistics firms.

SF said in a statement on Friday users could still access tracking data on the firm’s official website. It said it stopped sharing data on Thursday after a May request from Cainiao to provide “unrelated customer privacy data”.

Cainiao, which oversees roughly 57 million deliveries a day, also tracks deliveries purchased on platforms outside the Alibaba ecosystem.

“Cainiao takes a collaborative approach toward logistics... We are surprised and disappointed by SF’s abrupt action to stop providing the information that is necessary for the smooth completion of parcel deliveries,” a Cainiao spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Competing data and e-commerce firms, including the cloud unit of Tencent and the CEO of e-commerce platform JD.com Inc, weighed in on the rift on social media, calling for Cainiao to promote a more open data sharing arrangement. Tencent Cloud provides existing data services to SF.

Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

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