China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced today that 106 apps must be removed from app stores for continuing to infringe on consumer rights. Among them, 5 apps were designated by the MIIT and 101 apps were identified by provincial agencies. Additional administrative penalties may be imposed.
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. 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 by the deadline, they will be listed on the MIIT website. Previously in November, China's MIIT published multiple lists of apps that were found to deceive or mislead users to download apps, force users to accept targeted notifications, excessively collect personal information beyond the required scope, and request user permissions in a frequent and excessive manner, among other things. These apps were given a week to resolve the issues.
According to the notice (link in Chinese) issued today, 5 apps out of the apps identified in November failed to bring their practice into compliance with regulatory requirements. Among them, Douban, a social networking app, was found to excessively collect personal information beyond the required scope. In addition, provincial agencies have identified 101 apps that failed to rectify their infringement user rights in time.
The notice also stated that for some apps with serious violations and refusal to rectify, the local agencies shall impose administrative penalties on the app operators. According to Measures for the Punishment of Violations of Consumer Rights and Interests, collecting consumer personal information without consumers consent can be punished under Article 56 of the Consumer Rights Protection Law of China, which include up to 500,000 yuan (approximately 78,399 USD) fine and revocation of business license.