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China stresses app obligations in monitoring user accounts

Updated: Jun 28,2016 6:58 PM     Xinhua

Mobile app providers must fulfill “six obligations” when operating in China, including enforcing real-name registration and preserving records of their users’ activity for at least two months, a new regulation has made clear.

Firstly, app providers must verify users’ identities by requiring mobile phone numbers or other information, according to the regulation released by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on June 28.

Secondly, they should protect users’ information and cannot use the information without the users’ consent.

Thirdly, the providers should improve their censorship and punish anyone releasing illicit information through warnings, suspension of service or shutting down accounts, said the regulation, which will take effect on Aug 1.

Under Chinese law, online rumormongers and those who promote extremism or terrorism can face prison sentences.

Fourthly, app providers must inform users of their rights and are forbidden from collecting users’ location information and reading their contacts stealthily.

Under the fifth obligation, providers are banned from pirating rivals’ products.

Lastly, they are asked to record user logs and preserve the information for at least 60 days.

“The regulation was enacted after substantial field research and soliciting public opinions... and is aimed at regulating app services and promoting the industry’s healthy development,” the CAC said in a statement.

The number of people using mobile Internet in China stood at 619 million at the end of 2015, accounting for more than 90 percent of all those with Internet access in the country.

More than four million applications are available from domestic app stores, and the number is increasing rapidly. “Some apps have been used for spreading violence, terrorism, pornography and rumors, while some apps are violating users’ privacy and cheating money from them,” according to CAC.

The app stores should also shoulder “management responsibilities,” according to the regulation. They must review the legitimacy of app providers and urge them to protect user information and respect intellectual property rights.

Stores should also censor the apps to ensure they do not contain illegal content or functions, the regulation said.

It also encouraged government and Party authorities to make use of mobile apps to improve their services and increase transparency.

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