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Third-Party App Access Sparks Cyber-Privacy Debate

Mobile apps are forcing Chinese users to turn their personal information over to third-party services

By Zhang Qingchen Updated Sept.1

Just how safe is your personal information when you use mobile apps? When a man identified only by the surname Li downloaded an update for Amap, he was denied access to the mapping app because he declined a prompt to share his personal information with other third-party services, reported the Shanghai-based news portal The Paper, sparking debate online.
Xie Yongjiang of the Institute of Internet Governance and Law at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications criticized the requirement as unreasonable. Users should be allowed to opt out rather than being forced to accept such terms in order to use apps, he said. 

Liu Deliang, director of the Asia-Pacific Institute for Cyber-Law Studies, said China’s legislature should pay more attention to how personal information was used, rather than to collection and processing. He said some personal information must be preserved to protect one's reputation and dignity and other information, such as phone and ID numbers, should be protected to prevent fraud. 

Technically, Chinese cybersecurity laws hold that network operators should only collect users’ personal information where legal, just and necessary. Xie said these regulations were too ambiguous and needed clarification.