China Calls out 47 Apps for Violating Users’ Data Privacy Rights

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China Calls out 47 Apps for Violating Users’ Data Privacy Rights


China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released a list of 47 apps that violate users’ rights following the latest round of security and data collection investigation, as reported by South China Morning Post on August 29. According to the document, the China app of travel booking site Agoda, owned by Booking Holdings [BKNG:US], has illegally collected user data, while the app of Domino’s Pizza [DPZ:US] has requested permission in a forced, frequent, and excessive way. The MIIT has required these apps to address the issues by September 5 or face punishment.

China has enhanced supervision over the acquisition and processing of user information by online platforms. Since 2019, the MIIT has issued 25 lists of problematic apps, accusing more than 2,000 apps of illegally collecting user information, requesting excessive permissions, or misleading customers. On the other hand, Chinese regulators have enacted and improved regulations regarding individual information security. Last year, China passed the Personal Information Protection Law and Data Security Law to protect user privacy and improve the management of data concerning national security. Moreover, the MIIT also defined for the first time the necessary personal information that mobile apps can collect in a new regulation effective on May 1, 2021. The MIIT regulation allows consumers to decline to provide data unrelated to apps’ core functions and continue to use certain apps without obstruction. Previously, some apps took advantage of the ambiguity in the definition of necessary personal information to mislead their users and collect excessive personal information.