Chinese government clamping down on app stores

China’s government has issued an order for all app stores on the mainland to be registered.

In a notice on its website, the Cyberspace Administration of China says its offices should ensure that records are kept on the country’s many app stores.

“Many apps have been found to spread illegal information, violate user rights or contain security risks,” says the post.

Unlike in the west, China’s app store market is very fragmented with as many as 150 vying for customers, including market leaders Google Play and Apple’s App Store.

Registration is necessary, it says, to ensure it is clear who takes responsibility if apps, or app stores, are found to engage in illegal practices.

Three weeks ago, Apple removed the English- and Chinese-language news apps of The New York Times from its China app store. The US tech giant says the government had told it the apps violated local regulations.

Google’s store for apps using its Android operating system is blocked in China, with third-party stores taking its place. Most of China’s biggest app stores are controlled by internet and smartphone companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, Qihoo 360, Tencent and Xiaomi, reports The Straits Times.

It says Chinese laws are often intentionally broad and open-ended to allow regulators discretion in enforcing them. Concrete steps like the new order for registrations can indicate how laws will be carried out in practice.

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