China Steps up Regulation of Privacy Protections for Financial Apps

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Chinese regulators are expected to heighten protections for the private data of financial app users following the launch of a new filing system for developers.

On 19 May the National Internet Finance Association of China (NIFA) (中国互联网金融协会) announced the first list of financial apps ready for filing.

The list is comprised of 73 mobile financial apps involving 33 financial institutions and fintech companies, including Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Bank of China, Industrial Bank Co., Alipay, Du Xiaoman Financial, WeChat and JD Finance.

In November 2019 the Chinese central bank issued the “Mobile Finance Client End Application Software Safety Regulation Standards” (移动金融客户端应用软件安全管理规范), requiring that financial institutions perform rectification of their apps in accordance with standards and undertake filing with NIFA.

Domestic analysts say that the launch of filing procedures for apps in China is for the purpose of driving greater standardisation of information collection and usage, and is of benefit to strengthening tracking and protection of personal financial data.

Chinese regulators have recently stepped up their scrutiny of private data breaches involving mobile apps.

At this start of December 2019 China’s public security authorities launched a campaign to remedy abuses involving the collection of personal data by mobile apps.

100 apps were subject to investigation, with financial and banking apps referred to as a “disaster zone” for personal data breaches by state-owned media.

On 19 De­cem­ber Chi­na’s Min­istry of In­dus­try and In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy (MIIT) pub­lished the “No­tice Con­cern­ing Apps That Have In­fringed the Rights and In­ter­ests of Users (First Batch)” (关于侵害用户权益行为的APP(第一批)通报), nam­ing a to­tal of 41 apps that would be sub­ject to “spe­cial­ist rec­ti­fi­ca­tion work” in fu­ture. 

Over 21 of the apps on the list were cited for col­lec­tion of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, while the Xiaomi Finance app featured for prob­lems in re­la­tion to “dif­fi­culty can­celling ac­counts.”

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