China’s internet regulator warns app operators over data privacy and says more rectification is needed

Tracy Qu

China’s internet regulator has said that a large number of mobile apps need to take rectification measures for the over-collection of personal data, clamping down on the practice as the country’s over 800 million mobile users increasingly shop and order services exclusively online.

The National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team issued its half-yearly report on Tuesday, saying a national response to the problem was necessary. Beijing authorities last month censured several popular apps, including food delivery platform Ele.me and social commerce site Xiaohongshu, for over-collection of user data.

“A large number of apps exhibit abnormal behaviour, such as detecting other apps or reading and writing user device files, posing a potential security threat to the user's information security,” regulators wrote in the report.

Moreover, a number of apps with a large download volume applied for permission to carry out tasks unrelated to their business, according to regulators.

In China’s tech hub of Shenzhen it’s hard to pay without an app and that is starting to raise privacy concerns

The clampdown comes amid rising anxiety over data privacy among China’s netizens, particularly in hi-tech cities such as Shenzhen, where people increasingly do all of their shopping and food ordering online. Global tech giants such as Facebook and Google have also come under pressure over data privacy as legislators in the US and Europe push for tougher privacy laws.

According to a Bloomberg report this week, Facebook had been paying outside contractors to transcribe user audio calls on its Messenger app. The social media giant said it had ended the practice.

China’s regulators are also collecting public feedback on the issue, as many internet users have posted concerns on social media sites about apps that force them to share their personal data in order to use a service or complete a transaction.

Beijing authorities have taken down a number of apps in recent months over privacy and content issues, seeking rectification measures by operators.

Xiaohongshu, China’s social commerce unicorn with 85 million monthly active users, was pulled from Chinese app stores earlier this month amid a content review and NetEase Music was pulled for 30 days earlier this year for unknown reasons.

This article China’s internet regulator warns app operators over data privacy and says more rectification is needed first appeared on South China Morning Post

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