China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced that 43 apps, including Tencent’s WeChat, had been discovered to have illegally transferred user data and that their parent businesses had been required to make corrections. The action comes as the Chinese government tightens regulatory monitoring across a wide range of industries, with a focus on privacy and data.
The regulator said the apps had illegally shared users’ contact lists and location data, as well as annoying them with pop-up windows, in a statement published online. There was also an e-reading app owned by Alibaba Group, as well as others handled by Trip.com and video streaming service iQiyi on the list.
The apps will have until August 25 to make corrections, or they will be penalized in accordance with applicable rules and regulations, according to MIIT. Requests for comment from Alibaba, iQiyi, and Tencent were not immediately returned. Trip.com did not respond to a request for comment.
The penalty comes after a year of intense regulatory scrutiny of digital firms.
The State Administration for Market Regulation in China has released a series of draught guidelines aimed at strengthening fair competition by prohibiting tactics such as phony reviews and inflated public metrics.