SCIO press conference on development of industry and information technology in 2021

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What achievements has the MIIT made in its special campaign on app governance over the past year? Will these efforts be strengthened in 2022? And what is the focus of this work? Thanks. 

Tian Yulong:

Mr. Zhao will answer your questions. 

Zhao Zhiguo:

Thank you for your questions. The mobile internet has grown rapidly in recent years. Apps are closely related to the production and life of the public. Against this backdrop, the protection of personal information has become a hot issue that hundreds of millions of users are concerned about. The MIIT takes a people-centered approach and attaches great importance to the protection of users' rights and interests. Focusing on such problems as rule-breaking access of phone users' permission and the collection of users' information beyond the normal scope, we have carried out special campaigns for app management. In 2021, we strengthened coordination with other departments, and took comprehensive measures to address a series of prominent problems, and made remarkable progress. Our work can be summarized as follows:

First, we worked to improve laws, regulations and standards to better govern in accordance with the law. App governance must prioritize laws and regulations. Last year, the Personal Information Protection Law, Data Security Law, and other laws and regulations were issued. To further specify requirements, we drafted the Provisions on the Protection and Management of Personal Information on Mobile Apps, for which we have solicited opinions and suggestions from the public. In addition, we promoted the formulation of industry standards such as ones for evaluating the minimum necessity principle in the collection and use of personal information by apps. We can say that these policies and standards have provided strong support for app governance. 

Second, we targeted hot and difficult issues and carried out special campaigns. The issues considered most urgent, difficult, worrisome and expected by users are our biggest concern and focus. We carried out campaigns on pop-ups, which appear as an app opens and are difficult to close or mislead users to another page, and effectively urged major internet companies to solve this strongly-complained problem. We conducted special assessments on apps in the travel and accommodation sectors during major festivals and holidays. Last year, we carried out 12 batches of technical assessment for apps – nearly once a month. A total of 1,549 apps were publicly criticized for violating regulations, and 514 apps were taken down for failing to correct their violations. To sum up, we continued to create a cleaner app environment. 

Third, we strengthened the application of technologies in app governance. There are now millions of apps in the app stores, and we must further strengthen our technological examination abilities. Last year, with artificial intelligence, big data, and other new technologies, the capability of automatic examination of the national platform for technological examination of apps has improved greatly. 2.08 million apps were examined, which basically covered all apps of major internet companies in China. 

Fourth, we guided businesses to strengthen self-discipline and addressed problems at the source. Businesses should take primary responsibility and strengthen their self-discipline, which is of key importance to protect users' rights and interests and push ahead the healthy development of the industry. Last year, we organized related industry associations to call meetings with internet companies on the regulation of personal information protection in apps and provided 16 trainings for nearly a thousand companies to raise their red-line awareness, constantly improve internal governance, and operate in accordance with laws and regulations, all aimed to solve the problem at the source. 

Fifth, we improved user experience of services and pursued innovation in governance. Whether our work is good or not ultimately depends on users' feelings. Last November, focusing on major issues affecting user experience, we launched a campaign to improve user experience of information and communications services. We call it the "524" campaign. We urged companies to make a "dual list" for the protection of personal information, improve privacy policies and the management of accessing of users' permission, and optimize customer services with an aim to improve both services and user experience in an interactive manner.

In 2022, we will focus on following major aspects: 

First, we will continue to pursue comprehensive measures and improve regulation throughout the chain. We will focus on the supervision of those taking major responsibilities, covering all app stores, third-party software development kits (SDK), terminal companies, and major internet companies, among others, to create a safer consumption environment in the information and communications sector. 

Second, we will deepen the "524" campaign to improve service and steadily promote related companies to implement the tasks and requirements of the campaign. We will conduct reviews on a timely basis to better consolidate our achievements and improve users' sense of accomplishment. 

Third, we will push ahead joint governance and build a long-term mechanism. We will strengthen coordination with relevant departments to form regulatory synergy and form a comprehensive system featuring government regulation, self-discipline of companies, media supervision, and participation from social organizations and users, thus creating a safer and cleaner app application environment. Thanks. 

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