Popular news aggregation app Jinri Toutiao developed by TikTok owner ByteDance has been named in a new batch of 129 apps ordered to rectify their user data collection practices by China’s internet watchdog.
Jinri Toutiao, meaning Today’s Headlines, alongside Tencent-operated Kuai Bao and Tencent News, Sogou News by New York listed Sogou, and Nasdaq-listed Qutoutiao, were among a group of news apps that received an order from the Cyberspace Administration of China on Friday to rectify their data practices within 15 days.
The latest action from the CAC did not not only cover news apps. Seven other app categories targeted included fitness, video streaming, online shopping, education, women’s health, dating, and app stores.
Popular apps included under the order were Tencent-backed fitness app Keep, sports giant Nike’s shopping app, video streaming apps such as Tencent’s NOW Zhibo and Tencent-backed, gamer-focused Huya, as well as online dating platform Zhen Ai.
In May, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) removed 90 apps from app stores over ‘irregular collection’ of personal information.. Photo: AP
Privacy infringements and information breaches have become hot-button issues in the country as Beijing intensifies its scrutiny of tech companies’ data practices. The apps were among the latest to find themselves in the crosshairs of regulators over violations of the country’s Cybersecurity Law and other regulations covering personal data.
In May, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) removed 90 apps from app stores over “irregular collection” of personal information.
Although authorities have been cracking down on apps that over collect and misuse data, force users to give certain permissions, or ask users to agree to policies that do not comply with regulations, the Chinese government did not define “necessary” personal information for mobile apps until March this year.
Apps can collect such information from users to allow them access to basic functions and services, while users can decline to provide data outside what is deemed necessary, and can use certain apps without obstruction, according to rules that were jointly released by agencies including the CAC, MIIT, the Public Security Bureau (PSB) and the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR).
Experts say that the rules, which went into effect on May 1, will prevent app operators from exploiting loopholes by requiring users to give a “bundled consent” when processing their personal information.