China's New Mobile App Rules - Cybersecurity Updates 2022

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Over 2 million mobile applications wiped from Chinese app stores; CAC publishes new rules to target mobile Internet applications information services.

The Chinese government took down over 2 million applications from Chinese app stores in just two years (2018-2020)! 

Now, the government has revised and published stricter cybersecurity updates or provisions for mobile app development, which will go into effect from August 1st, 2022.

Why is this happening, and what does the new policy say? Also, how does it affect the developers within China? If you have these questions on your mind, this blog is for you. Read along to find answers to your questions and a lot more.

Why Were These Apps Taken Down?

As per the Ministry of Industry & Information Technology data, the total number of applications available at the end of 2018 was 4.49 million. And this number almost halved to 2.31 million by April 2022.

The two primary reasons responsible for the steep fall in applications in Chinese app stores were:

1) Fierce competition among mobile app development companies.

2) China's crackdown on data and content irregularities displayed in mobile applications.

China's New Mobile App Rules 2022: All You Need to Know!

The CAC or Cybersecurity Administration of China, a.k.a China's Internet Watchdog, on Tuesday, June 14th, 2022, published a revised version of provisions that target Mobile Internet Applications Information Services. 

This revised version is almost double the length of the previous one published in 2016. Also, the rules/provisions listed in this version will take effect by August 1st, 2022.

Why Were the New Rules Introduced?

According to CAC, as more and more mobile apps are being developed and used, the risk of new situations and problems is also rising. And to tackle the new situations/problems/risks, old rules must be revised, and new rules must be introduced. 

The new rules are supposed to help developers improve & adapt to new developments and minimize cybersecurity threats.

What do the New Rules Say?

For App Distributors/Providers

The new rules set by the Cybersecurity Administration of China require app distributors and providers to promote the "core socialist values" of the country. And at the same time, adhere to the "correct" direction of public opinions, values, and politics.

Also, the new rules require the application providers to be fair while handling user data. No app provider can force the app users to agree to any data processing activity or refuse to provide data processing services to the users who don't agree.

In addition to the above, a security review must be held for all the new applications, features, or technologies that can mobilize society or impact public opinion.

For App Developers 

The new rules consider application developers responsible for the content displayed in the application. Therefore, they shouldn't produce and circulate illegal information that might impact the users negatively.

What's more, the new rules highlight privacy protection & cybersecurity stipulating that application developers don't endanger/risk public interest or national security while processing data. Furthermore, any loopholes or security flaws, if spotted, must be reported and amended immediately.

The Revised Regulation Also Includes 3 Laws

The legal side of the revised regulation includes three laws that were introduced in 2021:

1) Personal Information Protection Law: As the name says, this law focuses on the protection of the personal information of the users.

2) Data Security Law: This law focuses on data security and applies to all data processing activities.

3) Revised Minor Protection Law: This law protects kids or juveniles from internet addiction.

The Upshot: Impact of China's New Internet Watchdog Rules on  Chinese Developers

While these new rules are speculated to shake the developer community in China, after over 2 million applications were removed from Chinese app stores, they're meant to make the applications more stringent.

Also, China has a vibrant community of application developers. Even Tim Cook, the CEO of tech giant Apple, praised the Chinese app developers for their amazing contribution to the global ecosystem. Tim Cook also said that the country's 5 million application developers "have always been at the cutting age."

In a nutshell, China boasts millions of talented application developers who can make the most of these rules to strengthen mobile app security and data privacy and protect the apps against cyber-attacks.

However, the above is mere speculation. The new rules will go into effect from August 1st, 2022. So, you can expect a clear picture once the regulations go live and the developers/app distributors start to adhere to them.


Published on Jun 23, 2022
Gaurav Gupta
Written by Gaurav Gupta
Senior Marketing Manager at Appknox


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