China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Wednesday that 43 applications, including Tencent’s WeChat, had illegally transferred user data and ordered their parent companies to make rectifications.
The shift comes as Chinese authorities increase regulatory oversight across a range of industry sectors, with a particular emphasis on privacy and data.
In a statement published online, the regulator said the apps illegally transferred users’ contact list and location data, while harassing them with pop-up windows.
The list also included an electronic reading app owned by Alibaba Group, as well as others managed by travel giant Trip.com and the iQiyi video streamer.
MIIT said applications will have until Aug. 25 to make rectifications, or will be punished under relevant laws and regulations.
Alibaba iQiyi and Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Trip.com declined to comment.
The punishment comes during a year of continual regulatory scrutiny for technology companies.
On Tuesday, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation published a set of draft rules aimed at improving fair competition by banning practices such as false valuations and inflated public metrics.
© Thomson Reuters 2021