Keeping up with the international trend of privacy protection, China is pushing forward its legislation to encourage the healthy development of its digital economy.

The country has been steadily reforming its legislation on privacy protection. As part of the rectification actions against the excessive collection of personal data and the illegal use thereof conducted by some mobile apps, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology plans to officially release the "Interim Provisions on the Management of Personal Information Protection for Mobile Internet Applications" (draft for comment).

The deadline for the submission of comments will be announced upon the official release of the draft.

The Interim Provisions, known to contain 22 articles, are going to establish two fundamental principles of personal data processing for mobile apps, namely informed consent and minimum necessary requirement.

The former requires that when engaging in personal data processing activities, a mobile app should inform users of its personal data processing rules in a clear and easy-to- understand language, and should provide full support for users to make a voluntary and clear declaration of will.

The latter generally requires that the activities of mobile Apps should be subject to clear and reasonable restrictions, avoiding excessive and unnecessary processing of personal data.

The Interim Provisions impose obligations on five types of entities: app developers, app distribution platforms, third-party service providers, mobile terminal telecommunication equipment manufacturers, and network technology service providers.

In terms of administrative compulsory measures and penalties, the process includes issuing rectification notice, public announcement, removing from platforms and disconnection.

In the event of repeated or serious violations, the competent authority will advise app distribution platforms and terminal telecommunication equipment manufacturers to issue risk warnings in the courses of integration, distribution, pre-configuration and installation of the relevant app.

It is expected that the release of the Interim Provisions will set out a bottom line and increase the predictability for the digital market. However, there may be some room for improvement in these regulations.

For instance, the obligations of the five types of entities need further clarification. Regarding app distribution platforms, there should be requirements to publicize their self-discipline management rules for public supervision. In the meantime, a complete and effective complaint reporting mechanism has yet to be established.

It will be interesting to see whether and how the final version of the Interim Provisions answers these questions.

Originally published 9 February 2021.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.