Tightening the noose around home-grown technology giants, China’s industry ministry has launched a six-month campaign to clean up what it says are serious problems with internet apps violating consumer rights, cybersecurity and “disturbing market order.”
Beijing in recent times is seen acting tough on its tech sector after years of runaway growth, as experts believe that the Communist regime is feeling threatened over the companies’ growing influence as well as the security of troves of sensitive consumer data.
According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, among other things, companies must fix pop-ups on apps that deceive and mislead users or force them to use services they might not want.
The order is part of China’s ongoing tech crackdown and police use of personal information. Authorities have ordered fines and other penalties for some of China’s biggest tech companies.
The latest campaign was launched with a teleconference call, the ministry said. On Sunday, it issued its 15th list of dozens of apps it has said require fixing. Among 22 specific scenarios it said required ‘rectification’, the ministry cited pop-up windows as a specific problem, especially situations where the entire screen of a pop-up window is a jump link with a false close button.
Among the other problems the ministry pointed out include malicious blocking of website links and interference with other companies’ products or services; threats to data security, due to a failure to encrypt sensitive information while it is being transmitted, and failure to obtain users’ consent before providing data to other parties.
With the new campaign in place, the Chinese government also took aim at illicit broadband networks, which it called ‘black broadband’ that failed to conform to website filing procedures or might be subletting or using illegal access to networks.
The regulators have been stepping up enforcement of anti-monopoly, data security, financial and other rules against scores of tech companies that dominate entertainment, retail and other industries.