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Tencent, Sina apps targeted in Chinese privacy crackdown

FILE PHOTO: People visit Tencent's booth at the World 5G Exhibition in Beijing, China November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Thursday criticised 41 apps including Tencent 0700.HK messaging app QQ and Sina's SINA.O sports app for allegedly forcing users to hand over personal data, part of an ongoing campaign to boost digital privacy protections.

Tencent’s app made it hard to deactivate accounts and required users to authorise access to a broad range of data, the industry and information technology ministry said.

Sina Sports, a major sports news site in China, collected personal information without permission, the ministry added in a statement.

QQ is popular with young people and has 653.4 million monthly active users, the second-largest messaging app in the country next to WeChat.

The 41 apps were ordered to make changes by Dec. 31 or face prosecution.

Tencent and Sina did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The ministry said it had asked more than 100 companies to make changes to software applications as part of the privacy crackdown, with more than 8,000 apps complying so far.

Reporting by Pei Li and Brenda Goh; Editing by Stephen Coates