China announces 6-month campaign to clean up apps

China’s crackdown on tech companies seems to be expanding as the country’s industry minister launched a six-month campaign to clean up internet apps

A 6-month campaign has been announced by China’s industry minister, to clean up what it says are serious problems with internet apps violating consumer rights, cybersecurity and “disturbing market order.” 

In an online notice the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said that, among other things, companies must fix pop-ups on apps that deceive and mislead users or force them to use services they might not want.

The order is all part of a wider effort to crack down on tech industries and police use of personal information. Authorities have recently ordered fines and other penalties for some of China’s biggest tech companies.

Earlier this month, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) ordered online stores not to offer Didi's app, saying it illegally collected users' personal data. The company’s shares have now fallen by more than 40% since making its New York Stock Exchange debut on 30 June.

 

The latest campaign in the tech crackdown

 

The ministry launched this latest campaign with a teleconference call on Friday and issued its 15th list of dozens of apps it has said require fixing on Sunday. 

There are 22 specific scenarios it has said require ‘rectification’, among which the ministry mentioned pop-up windows as a specific problem, especially when all the screen of a pop-up window is a jump link with a false close button.

Other various problems it highlighted were threats to data security due to a failure to encrypt sensitive information while it is being transmitted, and failure to obtain users' consent before providing data to other parties; and malicious blocking of website links and interference with other companies products or services. 

It also took aim at illegal broadband networks, which it called “black broadband" that failed to conform to website filing procedures or might be subletting or using illegal access to networks.

Regulators have been stepping up enforcement of data security, financial and other rules against scores of tech companies that dominate entertainment, retail, and other industries.

 

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