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Crackdown on illegal activity related to apps

Zhu Shenshen
Industry regulators are taking action against apps and advertising firms that illegally collect user information and infringe on the rights of seniors.
Zhu Shenshen

Industry regulators, including the national information ministry and Shanghai telecommunications bureau, are taking action against apps and advertising firms that illegally collect user information and infringe on the rights of seniors in the wake of CCTV’s related reports on the World Consumer Rights Day.

Tech firms and advertising agencies have illegally collected personal information, hoodwinked older people into installing apps they do not need and promoted fake drug advertisements, including tech giants like Alibaba’s UC Browser and cybersecurity firm 360, according to CCTV reports on Monday night.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MITT), China’s top industry regulator, shut down four related apps and asked local regulation bureaus in Beijing, Tianjing, Shanghai and Guangdong Province to continue investigating companies involved.

The ministry had previously shut down three apps for deceiving and misleading users to download them, and asked developers of several hundreds apps to improve or adapt.

Also, the Shanghai Communications Administration said it will begin investigating apps that leak personal information.

The investigation covers Shanghai Supa Tech, which offers an "optimization and cleanup" tool for seniors but illegally collects information and makes their smartphones run more slowly, according to CCTV reports.

In a report released on Friday by MITT, 130 apps were found with problems like “collecting user information," “seducing users to download” or “requiring high authority not necessary." These apps cover various sectors such as gaming, system optimization, travel, housing and social communities, some made by tech giants such as Tencent and Ctrip. 

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