By giving people a place to freely express themselves, and allowing them to find and communicate with similarly-minded people, the Internet serves as the perfect place for opposition and resistance movements to form. That’s why the Chinese government has been trying to monitor and control as much online activity as it can, especially since Xi Jinping came into power back in 2012. Its most-recent effort in this regard comes in the form of new laws that require app store owners to monitor their users and report their activity to the Chinese government, including foreign companies like Apple.
More than half a billion Chinese smartphone users face increased monitoring of their mobile app usage thanks to new laws targeting operators including Apple Inc. 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. All app stores and providers are now required to keep a record of users’ activity for 60 days. And in an effort to boost privacy protection, they must now seek a user’s consent before collecting personal information, location data and contacts lists. The regulations mark one of the most comprehensive efforts so far to oversee mobile applications, which are mushrooming in popularity alongside smartphone use. They’re part of a broader effort by President Xi Jinping’s government to clamp down on content deemed sensitive — anything from critiques of the Communist Party to porn.