China tightens rules for mobile app developers

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China has tightened rules for mobile app developers including requiring real-name registration and preserving users’ activity logs, the country’s internet regulator said on Tuesday, as Beijing looks to strengthen oversight of the growing app market.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement that mobile app providers would need to fulfill six requirements to help crack down on “unscrupulous” use of their platforms to carry out fraud, distribute pornography and spread malicious rumors.

China’s government already exercises widespread controls over the internet. It argues tough restrictions are needed to ensure security in the face of rising threats like terrorism, irking some foreign governments and business groups who say that the controls affect trade.

Mobile app providers will have to verify users’ identities with real-name registration, improve censorship and punish users who spread what the CAC called illicit information on their platforms. The firms will also have to save user activity logs for a period of 60 days, it said.

The CAC said the move was key due to the growing role apps were now playing within mobile internet: there are now over 4 million apps in China and the number is growing fast, it said.

“A small number of apps have been exploited by criminal types to spread violence and terrorism, pornographic material, rumors and other illegal information,” the regulator said.

Chinese authorities launched a campaign last week to clean up the comments sections on websites to prevent the spread of “harmful information” and encourage what it considers more helpful, well-intentioned comments.

(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)