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China to restrict mobile app news notifications in internet clampdown

·2 min read
The Chinese national flag is seen in Beijing, China

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's internet watchdog said on Saturday that it will ban some mobile app notifications and tighten regulations as the government ramps up a campaign to rein in the growing influence of internet companies over its citizens' daily lives.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) will strengthen guidance and control of mobile app information sources, and restrict notification volumes as part of what it terms a "people's war" aimed at bringing order to the online environment, Xie Dengke, a CAC spokesperson told a State Council press conference.

The CAC will ban media-related mobile applications from sending notifications from independent social media accounts operating in violation of regulations, and will filter what it sees as harmful and undesirable information, Xie said.

Xie did not name specific mobile applications or social media accounts affected by the new rules.

The CAC will also work with financial regulators to "rectify" self-published financial accounts that have spread rumours, Xie said, to bring the dissemination of financial information under control.

China has in recent months sought to curb the economic and social power of its once loosely regulated internet giants, in a clampdown backed by President Xi Jinping.

Greater scrutiny and a strengthening of antitrust regulatory powers mirror an increasingly tough approach to the tech sector in the United States and Europe.

Following a "self-inspection" period to give mobile application operators an opportunity to address problems, the regulator will punish those not meeting certain requirements with penalties including fines and service suspensions, Xie said.

He did not say how long the self-inspection period would last.

Earlier this week, the internet watchdog found that 33 mobile phone apps broke data privacy rules by collecting data without consent, among other issues.

(Reporting by Winni Zhou and Andrew Galbraith; editing by Clelia Oziel)