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China’s Internet Safety Week Begins With Alarming Report on Data Privacy

By Zhao Runhua / Sep 16, 2019 02:25 PM / Society & Culture

China’s annual national internet safety week has kicked off with a report on the lamentable state of data protection in the country.

According to the National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC), China’s official agency for anti-virus internet security, several apps, including some backed by the country’s internet giants, are collecting user data without authorization, state broadcaster CCTV reported Sunday.

Iciba, one of the country’s most-downloaded digital dictionaries; iWan, Tencent’s gaming service app; Moji Weather, a popular forecasting app; and Fenqibao, an online micro-lending and paid-in-installments shopping app, all fail to specify the terms of data collection terms in their user agreements, CVERC said.

Meanwhile, dating app Momo, Bytedance-owned news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, e-commerce giant JD.com’s financial services app, and a UnionPay-backed mobile payment app are all suspected of harvesting user information beyond that specified in their user agreements, according to CVERC.

Other apps and software development kits may also be charging illegal service fees, damaging smartphone operating systems, or harboring severe vulnerabilities, CVERC said.

In August, the Chinese government published a draft regulation aiming to standardize data collection amid increasing public concern about online data leakage. A report published later the same month showed that many mobile apps continued to illegally acquire user information.  

Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (runhuazhao@caixin.com)

Related: ‘Deepfake’ App That Puts Your Face in the Movies Sparks Privacy Concerns

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