On July 18, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued its 6th list in 2021 of apps that have not resolved existing problems related to user rights infringement. The list consists of 145 apps, including ByteDance, Amazon, and iFeng news.
Typically, the reasons for MIIT to place apps on this list include: (1) mandatory, frequent, and excessive requests for authorization, (2) illegal processing of personal information, (3) deceiving or misleading users, and (4) insufficient disclosure about the app's access to user data. The listed companies must resolve the problems by July 26, otherwise MIIT has the right to take follow-up actions.
Amazon was included on the list due to concerns with illegal collection of personal information. ByteDance was listed for insufficient disclosure about the app's access to user data. iFeng news was listed for mandatory, frequent, and excessive requests for authorization as well as deceiving, misleading, or forcing users.
MIIT and provincial governments conduct regular reviews of apps as part of the implementation of the Cybersecurity Law, Regulations on Telecommunications, and Provisions on Protecting the Personal Information of Telecommunications and Internet Users. MIIT usually hires third-party testing agencies to conduct the reviews. Companies that are found in violation of the laws will be given some time to resolve the problems. If they do not fix the problems after a period of time, they will be listed by MIIT. The MIIT announcement will give the apps a second chance to resolve the issues. After the second period, the apps still in violation of the laws will be ordered by MIIT to be removed from app stores.
So far MIIT has issued 15 lists of apps since 2019 and most of the listed companies were able to resolve the problems without being removed from app stores. For instance, previously on June 8, MIIT issued the 5th list in 2021, naming 291 apps, including Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, that violate user rights. By July 12, MIIT found 48 apps that have not completely addressed the problems and therefore must be removed from app stores.
Once apps are removed from app stores, there is still a chance to restore them. For example, 3 of the 41 apps in the first list issued in 2019 were removed from app stores but only 1 is still unavailable.
In addition to MIIT, the Cybersecurity Administration of China (CAC) also has the authority to remove apps due to improper collection or use of personal information. Previously, the CAC issued notices to remove Didi Travel and 25 Didi-related applications from app stores because of their mishandling of personal information.