China has recalled 33 mobile apps for collecting more user data than it deems necessary to offer their service. The companies publishing these applications, which include Chinese giants like Baidu and Tencent, have less than 15 days to fill their gaps in the protection of their users’ data.
Chinese authorities said via a brief statement on Saturday that the apps violated local regulations, primarily for collecting personal data that was not relevant to their service. Citing public complaints, Beijing said the operators of these applications broke the rules, after evaluating many applications, including cartographic navigation. These applications also collected personal information without the consent of their users, Chinese authorities say.
Among the list of 33 applications tackled by Beijing are applications published by Chinese technology giants such as Sogou, Baidu, Tencent, QQ and Zhejiang Jianxin Technology. These companies now have 10 days to rectify the problem, failing which they will be subject to sanctions under Chinese regulations.
The hunt for giants continues
In March, Beijing issued a regulation prohibiting mobile app developers from refusing to offer basic services to consumers who do not want to provide personal data unnecessary to the provision of those services. The Chinese government said at the time that the legislation would bring greater clarity on the types of data deemed necessary for the most common applications, including carpooling, instant messaging, e-commerce and map navigation.
For Beijing, the new regulations are necessary as mobile apps become more popular and the collection of a wide range of personal data becomes common. Chinese authorities note that several applications singled out seek personal information by bundling their services, effectively preventing their users from using their basic function if they refuse to authorize the use of their data.
In recent months, the Chinese government has stepped up efforts to tackle technology monopolies and their growing influence, and to protect consumers’ rights on digital platforms. Last month, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group was fined a record $ 2.77 billion for violating Chinese antitrust regulations and “abusing its dominant market position.”
The Chinese regulator said at the time that Alibaba had abused its strong market position since 2015 to prevent traders from using other online e-commerce platforms. These practices have had an impact on the free movement of goods and services, harming the business interests of a trader, and violating local anti-monopoly laws, the government agency said.