The government in China has often been called out for its strict and restrictive practices on companies, and that too, especially on app developers and phone manufacturers, regarding the collection and storage of user data. And now, it has been reported that the country is allegedly setting limits on the type of user data that mobile apps are allowed to collect.
Two Apps Suspended as of Now
The news was first reported by Reuters, which had said that app stores like the Apple App Store and Huawei AppGallery have already removed virtual keyboards from Iflytek and Sogou. Moreover, users will no longer be able to download these apps, which are known as “Input Method Apps” in the technical language.
Iflytek Input was a dictation app, which allowed users to dictate their text virtually anywhere on their phone. However, its data privacy agreement was significantly questionable, and granted the company behind the application to collect user information, and that too, on grounds of “national security and national defense security”. Additionally, there was no option to turn off the data collection, in sight. The company has apparently “made the required rectifications”, and is currently awaiting an approval by regulatory agencies.
The suspension on download of the above apps two apps does not apply to users who have already downloaded the same. They can continue using them without hassles, but any app updates will not be available to them for the time being. China had issued draft guidelines about limiting data collection the access that such apps have to user data.
China, Which Itself Spies on User Data, Preventing Companies from Doing So?
This move might seem weird (and for some, downright hypocritical) to many, considering how the country is always demanding that it has access to all types of user data collected by mobile applications and social media companies. All companies, be it locally-functional ones, or multi-national corporations like Apple Inc. and Facebook, are required to store all data that they collect from their user base in China, to be stored locally, in databases that grant open access to the Communist Party-led government of the nation.
Moreover, it is not uncommon for the government to get rid of apps that it doesn’t deem “appropriate”. Many activists and organizations have frequently called its allegedly “unfair” practices out, saying that it puts the data of its own citizens at risk by keeping an eye on all their activities.