China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has ordered the operators 38 apps to rectify their user data collection practices. This is the first batch of companies to be warned after China’s new Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) went into effect on November 1.
Popular apps on the list shared by the MIIT include Tencent News and Tencent Music, social media platform Xiaohongshu, entertainment-focused social network and reviews platform Douban, and online dating app Tantan. These apps were accused of “excessive collection of personal information.”
Other apps such as Alibaba-backed web browser app UC Browser were included on the list for “misconducts including forcing, misleading, and deceiving users in terms of activating data collection permissions and enabling push notifications.”
The MIIT ordered app operators to make rectifications within five days. Platforms that fail to make changes will be penalized, the ministry announced.
The move comes only three days after China implemented the PIPL in November. The new law dictates how and what kind of data can be collected and used in the country. It also restricts companies from moving data outside of China. App developers could face fines of up to RMB 50 million (USD 7.8 million), or 5% of the operator’s annual revenue, if they violate the regulation. Authorities are also allowed to remove platforms from app stores or cancel their business licenses.
The prevention of data abuse and privacy infringements has become a high priority for Chinese authorities. In March, regulators stipulated an “appropriate range of personal information” that apps could collect to maintain their core services. App operators are now held accountable if they collect data beyond that range without users’ consent.
The regulation was drafted by several ministries, including the MIIT, the State Administration for Market Regulation, the Cyberspace Administration of China, and the Public Security Bureau.