China's internet watchdog has issued notices to the operators of 129 smartphone applications, including several news apps, for illegally collecting or using consumers' personal information.
Popular news aggregation app Jinri Toutiao developed by TikTok owner ByteDance, alongside Tencent-operated Kuai Bao and Tencent News, Sogou News by New York listed Sogou, and Nasdaq-listed Qutoutiao, were among a group of news apps that received an order from the Cyberspace Administration of China on Friday to rectify their data practices within 15 days, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
Seven other app categories targetted included fitness, video streaming, online shopping, education, women’s health, dating, and app stores. Popular apps included under the order were Tencent-backed fitness app Keep, sports giant Nike’s shopping app, video streaming apps such as Tencent’s NOW Zhibo and Tencent-backed, gamer-focused Huya, as well as online dating platform Zhen Ai.
The cyberspace watchdog conducted the investigation in response to some users' complaints about certain apps' demand for personal information that had nothing to do with the services they offered, or their requirement of excessive personal data, state-run China Daily reported.
There are other apps that were found to have collected personal information without getting permission from their users. Early in May, the administration had removed dozens of other apps, including Sogou Translate and Baidu Map, from app stores over “irregular collection” of personal information.
China has intensified efforts against personal information infringements through administrative and legal measures in recent years, it said, adding that the country’s Parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), is in the process of formulating a law on China's first law on personal information protection.