China says apps that influence public opinion require security review


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The Cyberspace Administration of China has released draft regulations governing the operation of mobile applications. App providers should not use their software to engage in activities that endanger national security or disrupt social order, according to the rules.

Qi Yang | instant | Getty Images

China’s cyberspace regulator said on Wednesday that developers launching apps capable of influencing public opinion should undergo a security review.

This decision marks another step for Beijing to control and monitor information on the already heavily censored Internet in China.

It is not clear what regulators see as functions or technologies that can influence public opinion.

The latest rules are part of a draft regulation released on Wednesday by the increasingly powerful Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which seeks to set a framework for how app makers operate.

App providers should not use their software to engage in activities that endanger national security or disrupt social order, according to the rules.

Any news application must also obtain a license, which is subject to review by regulators, the CAC said. The news landscape in China is largely state-supported and already heavily censored.

Over the past year, China has stepped up regulation of its domestic tech sector in areas ranging from antitrust to cybersecurity.

The new ACC document brings together old laws and regulations into one set of rules, although most are not new.

For example, app makers need to have strong data protection in place. China had already passed a landmark personal data protection law last year.

Users must also register for the app using their real identities, according to Wednesday’s draft rules. This is something that has been happening for some time in China, where real identity is tied to state-issued ID cards and cell phone numbers.

The cyberspace regulator has said the rules are open for public comment and will go into effect this year, but no exact date has been given.

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