China will vet the privacy policies of the country’s most popular apps as part of a new campaign designed to crack down on the illegal gathering of personal information.
China’s cyberspace authority announced on Friday a joint internet clean-up campaign with three other regulatory agencies, including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The one-year campaign, which officially started this month, aims to protect the security of personal information and the interests of China’s internet users, the authorities said in a notice.
The move is the latest effort by Chinese authorities to step up the control over the country’s cyberspace, which hosts the world’s largest online population of over 800 million people. Apps are vital to Chinese internet users as about 98 per cent of them use mobile devices to access the internet to everything from watching short videos, chatting with friends and making financial investments.
In the notice, all app developers are to be responsible for the security of the personal information they collect, and they are barred from collecting personal information that is unrelated to the services they provide.
Apps that have “big users base and close connection to people’s everyday life” will also have their privacy policies and handling of user information evaluated, according to the notice, which did not name specific apps.
Mobile phone apps, which fall under the purview of China’s cyberspace authority, are often be fined or suspended until rectification is made.
The new campaign follows another six-month content crackdown that aims to eradicate “vulgarity” from the domestic internet. More than 700 websites and thousands of apps have been shut down in the span of three weeks.