Authorities tighten up pre-installed apps [Global Times]
(Global Times Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Mobile phone manufacturers will be required to receive approval from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) before they pre-install software in handsets as of November 1, according to a circular by the MIIT.The move has received a warm reception from the public, after a spate of complaints about pre-installed apps that have been unnecessary, troublesome or difficult to remove. Experts have pointed out however, that loopholes remain.Under the new rules, mobile phone manufacturers will not be allowed to install software that collects or changes users' information without their consent. The rules will also mean that they can't install software that uses or modifies users' information in a manner that has negative affects such as unwarranted fees or information leaks, said the circular issued in April.There are between 20 and 30 kinds of software often installed in Android mobile phones which can't be uninstalled.Some of the pre-installed software is installed by mobile phone manufacturers, some is installed by other stakeholders and some by distributors or retailers, Li Yi, secretary-general with the China Mobile Internet Industry Alliance, told the Global Times on Tuesday."Most pre-installed software is useless for mobile phone users and can't be uninstalled. They secretly take fees from users and steal their information before selling it to criminal organizations which spam them with useless messages or games," Li said. The illicit programs are part of a huge network of vested interests including mobile phone manufacturers, distributors, and other connected industries, and some low-end mobile phone manufacturers mainly make their profits through pre-installed software, said Li, adding that none of the parties involved want to let go of these profits.The notice will protect clients' rights and is helpful for building order in the mobile phone industry, but it won't necessarily cover other parties such as distributors who might install the software as well, Xiang Ligang, CEO of cctime.com, a communication technology website based in Beijing, told the Global Times.The notice does not mention specific punishments for manufacturers who pre-install software illegally, Li pointed out, saying that at present "self-discipline" would be required. He said that the authorities should strengthen punishments and make the manufacturers bear the responsibility if consumers' rights are violated, to ensure that manufacturers follow the rules and prevent others from pre-installing software.Both the two experts agreed that the MIIT only is not capable of cleaning up the industry, and that the watchdog should work with other departments such as the State Administration for Industry & Commerce and the Ministry of Public Security to tackle the issue.The Global Times contacted the publicity department with China Mobile, the country's largest mobile carrier on Tuesday, but a director with the center surnamed Li declined to comment.
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