An industry group monitoring mobile apps in China has cited 40 domestic apps for improperly collecting private data and demanded that they rectify their practices within a month.
The action comes following user complaints about the apps. The Personal Information Protection Task Forces on Apps (PIPTFA), an industry body, said it found out that 40 apps improperly collected or used user data, or failed to provide information on how to contact the developers, according to an announcement Tuesday.
Popular apps involved include virtual matchmaking site Soul, Shanbay Vocabulary, P2P financial services platform Renrendai and social commerce app Yunji.
It’s worth noting that the company behind one of the apps accused is Shenzhen Samoyed Internet Financial Services Ltd, which was accused of harvesting data from users’ smartphones in CCTV’s annual 3.15 gala. Later, Shenzhen Samoyed denied improper practice.
Recently, PIPTFA has stepped up its efforts over privacy concerns. In another announcement on July 11, the regulator said 10 apps, including the Bank of China's mobile banking app, express company Yunda and online telemedicine platform Chunyu Doctor, violated the country’s Cyber Security Law for not having privacy policies.
Along with the fast growth of internet economy, users’ privacy problem has become a deep-rooted problem incurred numerous complaints. In June, PIPTFA reported it has received over 5,500 complaints this year, mainly focused on the collection of user information irrelevant to the app’s function, lack of policies over the collection and use of data, and requests for users to give out personal information as a prerequisite to enjoy services.
Three industry assocations—the Internet association, consumer association and cyber-security association—jointly established PIPTFA in January following a statement by four major government ministries that they would more closely regulate illegal information collection. PIPTFA said it first asks apps to rectify their transgressions within a certain period of time. If they don't, it exposes the issues through the media, and then calls for suspension or shutdown in the case of serious violations that aren't recitified.