New Chinese Rules Force Apple to Monitor Users, Track App Usage

Chinese iPhone users’ mobile app usage will monitored, according to a new rule published on the Cyberspace Administration of China, as reported by Bloomberg.

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App stores and providers must establish the identity of users, while monitoring and reporting postings that contain banned content. The legitimacy of developers who post apps for download must also be verified, according to new rules posted on the Cyberspace Administration of China’s website Tuesday.

To comply with the new rules, Apple and other app outlet providers will need to keep a record of their users’ activity for 60 days, but before doing that they will need to get users’ consent to collect personal information, location data, and contacts lists from them.

The new rules apply to more than a dozen platforms offering mobile apps for download, alongside Apple’s App Store and local smartphone makers. Google’s app outlet is not available in China. Baidu was ordered to report banned content and verify the credentials of advertisers starting from August this year.

“The regulations have been in the pipeline for some time and it’s an exacerbation of the existing controls,” says Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Center for China Studies. “This is in the wake of an increase in the number of communications, which are seen as critical of the regime.”

While the new rules are consistent with existing regulations, these guidelines will step beyond enforcing requirements on just app outlets, and in some cases will apply to developers and app operators for the first time, according to Bird & Bird partners Sven-Michael Werner and Michelle Chan, as cited by Bloomberg.

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