China punishes 100 apps for breaches of personal information as consumer anxiety rises over privacy

South China Morning Post 發布於 2019年12月09日09:12 • Celia Chen celia.chen@scmp.com
  • The China Cybersecurity Center said 100 apps, across a range of industries including e-commerce and banking, have been penalised since November
Earlier this year, the China Consumers Association (CCA) warned that a large number of smartphone apps in China were collecting an excessive amount of personal data, including user location, contact lists and mobile numbers. Photo: Shutterstock

China has cracked down on another large batch of apps in order to strengthen protection of personal data amid rising consumer anxiety in the country over the potential for online privacy breaches.

The China Cybersecurity Center said 100 apps, across a range of industries including e-commerce and banking, have been penalised since November, for incorrect collection of personal data, lack of privacy agreements or ambiguous rules, according to a statement on its WeChat official account last week.

It added that 27 of the apps received rectification orders and 63 received written warnings. Meanwhile, 10 were issued with fines while another two were under criminal investigation. "In total, 683 apps have been punished this year," said the report. "China's public security authorities will continue to crack down on violations of personal information."

The blacklisted apps include offerings from China Everbright Bank, Bank of Tianjin, e-commerce services providers Weidian and Kaola, online housing rental platform Fang.com as well as vehicle information provider Chexun.com, although the specific punishments for each app were not disclosed.

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Privacy infringements and information breaches have become hot-button issues in China, as the country continues to digitise its economy. Last month, China's authorities requested that internet companies strengthen protection of personal data amid concerns that some have been stealing, trading or revealing personal information in the name of conducting big data research.

China's national internet finance association stated that "without consumer consent, member organisations should not collect, use or provide personal consumer information to third parties".

Earlier this year, the China Consumers Association (CCA) warned that a large number of smartphone apps in China were collecting an excessive amount of personal data, including user location, contact lists and mobile numbers.

China is currently working on new data privacy laws, in an effort to address sensitive issues that have also tasked governments elsewhere as more aspects of everyday life become a digital experience. During the "two sessions" in April, National People's Congress spokesman Zhang Yesui said authorities had hastened the drafting of a law to protect personal data, but did not say when it would be completed or enacted.

Meanwhile, the US Senate has been holding hearings on new privacy laws to protect all Americans while the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force across the EU in May 2018.

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