China agency tells Tencent their apps have to be approved before they go live or update

Date: 2021-11-24T22:57:24+00:00

Location: therecord.media

Chinese regulators have told video game giant Tencent that it will need to submit its apps to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or MIIT, before launching or updating them.

The MIIT said it wanted to conduct “technology testing” to ensure that the company’s apps comply with privacy standards, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The announcement comes as China begins rolling out new data protection laws that restrict how much user data and personal information tech companies can store.

Earlier this month MIIT announced that it was stepping up its efforts to protect user data and notified the operators of 38 popular apps that they had just five days to change the way they collect user data or face fines. Tencent was among those named and the changes were supposed to be in place by November 9.

“Our department has continued to increase our oversight over apps and their infringements on users rights,” MIIT said at the time. “A total of 38 apps were found to have problems and their issues need to be rectified before November 9th.”

For Tencent, this has been a year spent in the government’s crosshairs. Antitrust regulators singled it out for allegedly improperly making exclusive licensing deals as part of its music unit. In August, China imposed new restrictions on video gaming for minors, declaring young people could only play a few hours a week. Video games are a core of Tencent’s business. Tencent responded by cutting minors’ playing time on Honor of Kings, one of its most popular games. 

Tencent was quoted by the South China Morning Post and other news outlets on Wednesday saying that it was “continuously working to enhance user protection features within our apps, and also have regular co-operation with relevant government agencies to ensure regulatory compliance.”

Dina Temple-Raston is a senior correspondent at The Record, and previously served on NPR's Investigations team focusing on breaking news stories about national security, technology, and social justice.