#privacy: Web regulator in China says app operators must clamp down on data collection malpractice

China

The Internet regulator in China has instructed a high number of mobile app operators to improve the way they harvest and process private data.

Collecting too much personal data has become a problem in the Asian nation, where over 800 million smart device users are turning to the internet to satisfy the full extent of their shopping requirements.

Earlier this week, a report issued by China’s National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team (NCNERTT) said how the country must pull together an address the issue from a unified front.

Authorities in Beijing took sterner measures last month, when a number of popular apps were censored. The food delivery app, Ele.me and social retail website, Xiaohongshu were among those punished for collecting unnecessarily large amounts of user data without proper justification.

In its report, the NCNERTT stated:

“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.”

Data relevance was also called into question by the regulator, with scrutiny falling on apps that downloaded huge swathes of consensually-obtained data, before putting some of that data towards operations that were unrelated to the company’s business.

The tougher stance on data privacy in Chinese enterprise comes amid growing general concern for data protection through all levels of society, with emphasis on tech-intense cities such as Shenzhen. In such conurbations, almost all citizens conduct their retail and grocery shopping lives online.

On the international scene, tech giants such as Facebook and Google have come under increasing fire from politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, as regulators drive to enforce higher standards of data privacy.

PrivSec Report recently told of how Facebook had been employing third-party workers to transcribe users’ audio footage through the Facebook messenger app. The social network has since said that the practice has been terminated.

Regulators in China have been polling for views on the subject, as many web-users have taken to social media to voice their concerns about apps that demand personal data in return for functionality.


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