China / Society

Net group urges operators to step up controls on apps

By Cao Yin (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-27 07:51

Mobile network operators and smartphone application providers in Beijing drew up an agreement on Wednesday to enhance internal controls, improve supervision of the content of apps and keep the industry in good order.

The growth of mobile technology has brought a great deal of convenience for users who surf the Internet or keep in touch via social media networks while on the move.

However, smartphone applications with security gaps, or that are used to spread rumors and pornography, have created problems, according to the Beijing Internet Association.

The association, in an effort to tackle such problems and clean up the industry, has urged 50 mobile network operators and application providers across the capital to sign the agreement.

The document calls for stricter inspections of apps before they are uploaded to online stores.

Zhang Yuejin, director of the association's information security committee, said the agreement is intended to maintain a fair competitive environment in the industry, while encouraging Internet giants to behave in a more socially responsible way instead of focusing only on earning money.

China had 632 million Internet users at the end of June, including 527 million who access the Web from mobile devices, and the total is expected to rise to 850 million next year.

"Smartphone applications represent the most advanced Internet technology, so the information they carry and the degree to which they are safe will affect the future development of the industry and people's lives," Zhang said.

Xu Xiaolong, deputy manager of the app store run by smartphone maker Xiaomi, said his team spends a considerable amount of time removing applications with unacceptable content every day.

"Apps with pornographic content are the ones our inspection team deletes most frequently, followed by ones that steal money from users," Xu said. At least 200 requests for apps to be removed from the store are received every day, he added.

"If we find someone who uploads unacceptable apps five times, he is put on a blacklist," he said. "Some apps are found to have problems after they pass through our inspections, which requires us to increase checks on the updated contents."

Yu Dan from search giant Baidu said he supports the improvement of internal controls by mobile network operators, and added that the agreement is timely.

The Cyberspace Administration of China, the nation's Internet watchdog, said at the beginning of the month that it is working on guidelines for smartphone applications to ensure that the industry develops in line with the law.

Tong Liqiang, director of the authority's Beijing branch, said then that the guidelines were among a number of rules for the Internet that the organization is studying.

Yu said, "Wednesday's agreement is a timely measure that can be said to echo the decision to draw up app guidelines."

Yang Hongpeng of security software provider Qihoo 360 said stricter inspection of apps by companies could reduce security risks online. However, he said the city's government should establish uniform standards for the removal of apps.

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