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China drafts rules on mobile apps' collection of personal data

FILE PHOTO: An employee shows the app of China's Didi Chuxing as they launches their ride service in Toluca, Mexico, April 23, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/File Photo

(Reuters) - China unveiled draft guidelines on Tuesday seeking to limit the scope of mobile apps’ collection of personal data in the latest attempt to curb the sprawling technology sector.

The set of draft rules published by the Cyberspace Administration of China covers 38 types of apps from online shopping and instant messaging to ride-hailing and bike sharing.

China has increased scrutiny of its technology sector in recent weeks, last month drafting anti-monopoly rules for tech firms.

It has also expressed concerns about data protection and consumer rights, while authorities have on a number of occasions ordered apps to be suspended for mishandling user information.

“In recent years, mobile internet applications have been widely used and have played an important role in promoting economic and social development and serving people’s livelihoods,” the cyber administration said in a statement.

“At the same time, it is common for apps to collect ... personal information beyond their scope, and users cannot install and use them if they refuse to agree.”

For ride-hailing apps, the draft rules regard a user’s phone number, or other personal identity information, as well as their location and destination, as falling within the scope of required information.

Online payment apps, meanwhile, need the registered user’s phone number or other ID information, as well as the bank card numbers of both payer and payee, according to the draft rules, which are open to public feedback until Dec. 16.

Reporting by Tom Daly and Brenda Goh; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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