China / Society

Real names required for phone apps

By CAO YIN (China Daily) Updated: 2016-06-29 08:28

Under new system, providers are asked not to use personal info without users' consent

Smartphone application providers will be required to have real-name registration for users and to establish a system to review content starting Aug 1.

The move aims to ensure the safety of information, China's top internet watchdog said on Tuesday.

The regulation, issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China, said mobile application providers should verify the identities of users by requiring mobile phone numbers or other information, though users can identify themselves with nicknames.

The administration said that while apps offer convenience, they are also used for spreading violence, terrorism, rumors and pornography, as well as for fraud.

"That is why it is urgent to regulate the app market to protect users' interests," an unnamed official with the administration was quoted as saying in a statement.

More than 4 million apps are available on domestic app stores.

China had 688 million netizens as of the end of 2015, of whom 620 million surfed the internet with mobile phones, according to the latest report from the China Internet Network Information Center.

Wang Sixin, a law professor at Communication University of China, said the regulation conforms to the nation's internet policy by balancing development and governance.

"In the past, problems were solved case by case, because we had no app rules," he said. "But from Aug 1, when the regulation takes effect, app providers will have more responsibility to verify users' registration and information."

Fang Xindong, founder of internet strategy think tank Chinalabs, said it is not difficult for app providers to have real-name registration, "as the mobile phone number gives your real identity."

Tao Weihua, manager of the Mobile Assistance Department at Qihoo 360, Chinese biggest security software company, said the company has taken measures to review information on its platform and implement real-name registration.

App providers are asked not to use personal information without users' consent, and anyone releasing illicit information should be warned, or have their service suspended or shut down under the regulation.

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