Tencent, Xiaomi apps called out for illegal data collection

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China’s internet regulator, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), on Thursday released the first list of apps that violate regulations on data collection, including those from Chinese technology companies including Tencent, Xiaomi, and Sina Weibo.

Why it matters: The move is part of China’s “rectification” efforts to crack down on mobile app privacy violations, particularly those with large user bases.

  • In November, the Chinese regulator announced a two-month-long campaign against illegal data collection practices and user privacy protection issues among mobile apps. The regulator threatened to blacklist and halt operations of noncompliant apps.
  • The MIIT said a third-party agency will conduct the inspections that specifically look into apps with high download numbers.

Details: More than 8,000 problematic apps made changes and became compliant during the “self-inspection stage” of the campaign over the past month. However, the regulator found 41 problematic apps that “illegally collect and use personal data, excessively request user authorization, or create unnecessary hurdles for unsubscribing users” (our translation).

  • The list includes many popular apps such as Tencent’s QQ and QQ Reading, Xiaomi’s digital finance app Xiaomi Finance, Sina Corp’s sports media platform Sina Sports, news aggregator 36Kr and Sohu News, and inter-city delivery service FlashEX.
  • The apps have until Dec. 31 to comply with regulations. The MIIT will take action against apps that fail to make changes.