The first thing Yan Lee does when he wakes up is check news and messages on WeChat (owned by Tencent), order a cab on Didi, the Chinese equivalent of Uber, to the office, pay for his ride through Alipay on mobile (owned by Alibaba). Once at work, he uses Baidu to search for information online.  

This daily routine of Lee’s, the chief product officer for Hong Kong-based ad tech company iClick Interactive, is not unlike the routines of millions of Chinese professionals every day. That means the three tech conglomerates — Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent — have collected terabytes of information about consumers in the country. They are so dominant in China that they are widely known as “BAT.”

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