China’s regulation of mobile platforms isn’t closing the door on foreign apps

By Song Shengxia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/1/16 23:48:39

China's new rule that requires app stores to register with the government will prompt store owners to tighten control over the quality of apps and raise their threshold for selecting qualified apps. The move is not a sign that China is closing its door to the outside world but rather that the country is aiming to manage its loosely regulated mobile Internet and protect smartphone users from illegal content and rampant malware. Reinforcing management of information on mobile Internet as well as on mobile platforms is the foundation for safeguarding cyber security and national security. 

According to the latest notice by the Cyberspace Administration of China, the country's cyberspace regulator, all app stores should register with its local offices and submit required documents as of Monday. 

The notice is an enforcement of rules that were passed in June 2016 for safeguarding mobile and Internet security and stopping violators from using apps to jeopardize national security and disturb the social status quo. The latest move has made headlines at a time when the English-language and Chinese-language apps for The New York Times were removed from Apple's China store a few weeks ago.

The regulation of mobile platforms is by no means unique to China. Many countries manage app stores and apps for various purposes such as intellectual property protection or ideological purposes. The issue of managing information in the Internet era has become increasingly pressing and vital given the astonishing ability and huge impact of spreading information on the Internet. It has become a common issue that all countries face and all countries are entitled to write laws and rules to manage their domestic information systems and prevent security risks.

Take mobile apps for example. The vast number of apps makes it impossible for any country to completely review and get rid of those that violate laws. According to incomplete estimates, an app that receives 50 million downloads can give rise to more than 700 copycats. These copycats can do a lot of harm to users or undermine the national interests by privacy or by spreading illegal information, such as violent and obscene information or rumors.

Tightening the management of app stores does not mean the nation will shut out the outside world, nor purposely target foreign firms such as Apple. The Chinese Internet and mobile market remains open to all players including foreign players as long as they acknowledge China's Internet sovereignty and are willing to obey Chinese rules and regulations.     

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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