China / Society

App-store oversight on track

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-03 04:18

Internet watchdog plans laws, rules to regulate unruly cellphone industry

App-store oversight on track
The development and operation of mobile networks should be under their own legal framework as the government works to keep smartphone app stores safe and protect users, China's Internet watchdog said on Sunday.

Smartphones have been a major way for Chinese to surf the Internet and also have been the driving force for the country's economic growth, the Cyberspace Administration of China said.

During Sunday's seminar, which included Chinese mobile-network giants and specialists, a senior official from the administration confirmed that it is time to make laws and rules to regulate the industry and combat the illegal use of apps.

The official, who requested anonymity, said that the authority is accelerating its work to issue guidelines on applications and micro-blogging services, adding that the laws involving hot issues, including protection of personal information and juveniles, have also been put on the agenda.

The authority will severely punish producers of websites and applications that damage State security, spread fake or obscene information, or instigate ethnic discrimination, he said, using the social app U Plus as an example.

On Oct 28, government officials ordered the app to be removed from app stores and closed temporarily because U Plus allegedly sent pornographic information to users.

Meanwhile, the authority also permanently closed a public account, Zhejiang Online, on WeChat, the country's most popular instant messaging tool, after finding it unqualified to post news and with no ties to local government departments.

The public account disobeyed the rule targeting instant messaging tools, made by the authority in August, the official said, adding such moves must be avoided in mobile networks.

Hang Guoqiang, manager of the mobile-Internet department of China Mobile Ltd, the nation's biggest telecommunication carrier, agreed with the senior official from the Cyberspace Administration of China, saying his company has taken various actions to ensure the security of its app store.

"We established a ‘green' alliance with app inventors, which means all apps must be safe and healthy if they want to enter our store," Hang said. "We'll examine and verify contents of apps, guaranteeing each of them abide by Chinese laws and have no information that involve gambling, are not vulgar, and won't release State secrets.

"After the apps are in our store, we will follow up and supervise them, ensuring their update information is legal," he said. "Such work is a challenge for us, but it relates to our company's image and we must insist on it."

In addition, smartphone users can also complain to the giant if they find problematic apps in the store, he added.

Wei Xin, manager of the app store with China Unicom, another telecommunication company, said apps that steal users' privacy and smartphone fees still exist, "which must be rooted out according to law".

Some apps are qualified when they are uploaded in the store, "but after they operate for a while, their contents become tainted with something illegal," she said.

Her company has deleted 9,618 instances of improper information in the store and removed 691 apps, she said, suggesting that telecom enterprises make a blacklist of violators and share it among themselves.

By June, the number of netizens in China had reached 600 million, of which about 83 percent use smartphones to surf the Internet, the authority said.

After the apps are in our store, we will follow up and supervise them, ensuring their update information is legal."

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