Chinese app stores ordered to remove 106 apps for misconduct on data
Chinese mobile application stores are required to temporally remove download links of 106 mobile applications, including Douban and Changba, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Thursday.
The applications are found to collect unnecessary personal information, seduce users to download and harness users with excessive privacy requests.
It's the latest regulatory move after China released laws on data security and personal information and privacy protection in November.
"The ministry is pushing up regular inspections (for mobile apps) to prevent them infringing users' rights and interests," the ministry, the country's top industry regulator, said in a statement online.
These popular applications were found to collect unnecessary personal information and excessively request privacy permissions.
They include book and film rating site Douban, online karaoke service provider Changba, second-hand goods trading platform Aihuishou and SMG-developed Kankan News.
The apps are removed from Huawei, Xiaomi, Tencent and Baidu's stores, but not Apple's App Store. Only new users are affected.
Normally, the removal is temporary. But it may lead to further punishment or shutting down if app developers don't change.
Aihuishou will apply for listing in the Xiaomi Store again after redesigning its application, the company said on Thursday.
It's a clear signal of China strengthening industry-wide regulation, in line with the releases of new laws like the Personal Information Protection Law, which took effect in November.
The law prevents businesses from collecting sensitive personal data and aims to crack down on crimes like online fraud and data theft.
It is expected to improve data security and management in the world's second-biggest economy with over 1 billion netizens.
It may bring challenges and changes for top tech giants, which highly depend on data-driven business.
The law, similar to Europe's General Data Protection Regulation, requires firms to justify their data collection and give consumers the right to access or delete their information.
It requires firms to offer options for users to turn off recommendation services based on their personal information and behavior.
In Shanghai, a local law specifically for data usage and management will take effect next year, covering detailed regulations about how the government handles data collected from residents.
The law will classify public data into three categories in terms of whether it can be accessed by third parties.
Data on information and the privacy of individuals, business secrets and classified commercial information cannot be accessed, while other types of data will be either conditionally or unconditionally accessible to the public, according to the new law.