In a notice posted to its website on Friday, the Cyberspace Administration of China announced that it would be requiring mobile app stores to register with its offices in an attempt to clamp down on fraudulent applications.
The rules go into effect on Monday, January 16th, and follow a 2016 law designed to restrict apps that attempt to disrupt national security, social order, and other illegal activities. These new rules appear to be designed to protect consumers from apps that deliberately steal or defraud users, as well as restricting apps that offer stolen content, such as books or movies. In some cases, app stores will collect information and money from consumers, and shut down before users can take advantage of their services.
There are numerous app stores in China. A number of prominent companies, such as Apple and Alibaba run their own, but while Google is barred from operating in the country, there are numerous third-party Android stores used by Chinese consumers. While larger app stores such as Apple have rules and guidelines for developers, there are numerous third-party and alternative stores that do not have such oversight. According to The New York Times, many of these apps and websites feature lax security standards, which puts Chinese consumers at risk.
The listing notes that app store owners will have to register if they’re setting up a storefront, if they make changes, or if they shut down. The rules will help provide some regulatory oversight for consumers. The Times notes that these rules are vague, and that there is the possibility that they could be used to clamp down on political and restricted information.