The Chinese government has vowed to bring order to the mobile app sector in the latest grip on the already tightened mainland internet.

As the South China Morning Post reported, the Cyberspace Administration of China, or CAC, said on Monday, December 12, that it will stop “online chaos” in app search, rankings, downloads, and usage.

The statement listed a series of behaviors that need rectification, including counterfeit apps, illegal user data collection, spreading harmful information, overly abused pop-up ads, and tricks to get users to download certain apps or spend more money.

The regulator swore to “take targeted measures” against platforms committing serious violations and “implement those measures forcefully.” No further detail about the potential consequences was given.

This is the latest in a series of opaque languages from the CAC to plug holes in its censorship apparatus. China’s uprising in late November has proven the existing system still pales to an angry public despite its comprehensiveness. During which, the cat-and-mouse game saw internet users outwit algorithms with creative alternatives.

Chinese users on mainland platforms such as Wechat, Sina Weibo, and Douyin must register accounts with legit personal ID information. By December 15, the CAC would begin to go after internet users simply over what they like or comment on social media. Without a clear definition, there is no telling whether a post might be classified as “illegal” or “harmful content.”

CAC’s pledge to clamp down on the deemed application disorder came after the sector is already contracting in recent years. The South China Morning Post noted that the tech crackdown and weak consumer spending from an ailing economy have already hampered app numbers.

According to the report, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has stopped including information about mobile applications in its monthly reports since July. This is the first time since the figures were released in August 2017.

The ministry said around 930,000 apps were disabled in 2021, with an estimated average of 2,500 apps going off shelves daily. As of the end of June 2022, there were only 2.32 million active applications, less than half of the 4.49 million number from the same period last year. This is also an 8% decline from the 2.52 million active apps six months prior.

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