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China Issues New Rules for Mobile Apps

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has issued regulations for apps for smartphone/mobile devices that will come into effect August 1, 2016 (“App Rules,” available here, preceded by a Q&A section, all in Chinese). The App Rules are aimed primarily at regulating the rapidly growing app market and addressing corresponding data privacy issues. Overall, the App Rules impose new data management and data security requirements for app and app store providers.

App providers are required to authenticate the identities of their users—tying their online profiles to real citizen identification card numbers—and retain users’ activity logs for sixty days (Art. 7). Furthermore, app providers are required to obtain “relevant qualifications” and make record filings with CAC’s provincial counterparts within 30 days of beginning online operations (Art. 5). The term “relevant qualifications” is not defined and may differ depending on the type of service rendered. For instance, according to one commentary (Chinese), video streaming, health service, and news service app providers may all need different licenses from the respective regulatory agencies. (Note that health information websites already need to be filed for the record with the National Health and Family Planning Commission.) Meanwhile, app stores are required to establish stricter cybersecurity practices, including filing for the record with provincial authorities and monitoring apps for misuse of user data and intellectual property rights violations (Art. 8).

Companies looking to thrive in China’s mobile app market are advised to pay close attention to these new rules both to ensure compliance and remain competitive in the evolving business environment.

Tina Zhang, Addison Yang, and Steven Zhu of Covington & Burling LLP assisted with the research and preparation of this article.


© 2020 Covington & Burling LLPNational Law Review, Volume VI, Number 186


About this Author

Ashwin Kaja, Covington Burling, International trade lawyer

Ashwin Kaja is an associate in the firm’s Beijing office and is a member of the firm’s International Trade, Public Policy, Data Privacy & Cybersecurity, and Anti-Corruption practice groups. He has advised multinational companies, governments, and other clients on a range of matters related to international trade, public policy and government affairs, data privacy, foreign investment, anti-corruption compliance and investigations, corporate law, real estate, and the globalization of higher education. He also serves as the China and India editor for Covington’s ...

Eric Carlson, Litigation Attorney, Covington Law Firm

Eric Carlson advises clients operating in China and other jurisdictions in Asia on a range of anti-corruption laws, including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). He has deep experience leading highly sensitive anti-corruption/FCPA investigations in China and other jurisdictions in Asia, including investigations presenting complex legal, political, and reputational risks.​​