Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published the first batch of problematic mobile applications on January 22. Such apps illegally collected and used users’ personal information, as reported by JRJ.com on January 25. The list involves apps from many listed companies, including Tencent [0700:HK], Qihoo 360 Technology [601360:CH], Mango Excellent Media [300413:CH], CICC [3908:HK], and others, with the app types ranging from entertainment to financial services. Among them, 157 apps have to conduct self-rectification by January 29. Otherwise, MIIT will take enforcement measures, such as public notifications and removals from mobile app stores.
In regards to protecting consumers’ rights and interest, an expert at MIIT calls for enterprises to be compliant, especially with data and personal information protection. From 2019 to now, MIIT has tested 620,000 apps, ordered 2,234 illegal apps to comply to security requirements, publicly reported 500 apps and removed 132 apps that did not comply with requirements. In August 2019, the National Information Security Standardization Technical Committee drafted the Basic Specification for the Collection of Personal Information by Mobile Internet Application (App). The specification highlighted management requirements and technical requirements for personal information collection by app, and it also listed information and user requirements that can be collected by 21 common types of apps, such as map navigation, car hailing and instant messaging. When users refuse to provide other types of personal information, the app should not refuse service for any reason. Also, it requires that the app should obtain the user’s consent in advance before sharing and transferring personal information. In October 2020, the Chinese regulator unveiled the draft law on personal data protection, in which it states that those who violate the law could face a fine of up to RMB50m or 5% of a company’s previous year’s turnover. It is believed that this comprehensive law towards personal data protection will have a significant effect on companies and individuals who are illegally collecting, using and trading personal information for profit.