China cracks down on apps collecting users' private information

2019-12-05 Global Times Editor:Li Yan

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security has requested that companies remove 100 apps that have illegally collected users' private information from app stores for rectification, China's cybersecurity authority said in a statement on Wednesday.

The list of apps is the result of a tightened November campaign from regulators, cracking down on internet misconduct. 

The crackdown mainly focused on apps violating users' privacy - for example by not providing a privacy agreement, by providing a vague description of the usage of private information, or by collecting unnecessary information. Among the 100 listed apps, 27 were ordered to rectify their issues, 63 received administrative warnings and 10 were subject to penalties, according to the statement.

Listed industries include those involved in online education, health, e-commerce and financial services, read the statement. Several state-owned banks such as the China Everbright Bank and the Bank of Tianjin were also listed.

Xin Haiguang, a senior IT commentator, told the Global Times on Thursday that users' private information, including location and age, is a component of big data and could be used to analyze a customer's preferences and needs, thus companies are eager to collect it.

"When these companies get your information, they know what you like and what you have been searching for online. Then they can send specialized advertisements to you, which can boost customer experience," Xin said, warning that users should be cautious when apps ask for access to personal information.

Since the campaign was jointly launched by regulators including the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Industry and the Information Technology and Cyberspace Administration, a total of 683 apps that illegally collected users' private information have been investigated and dealt with, the statement said.

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