(Yicai Global) Jan. 9 -- China is awash with apps that excessively ask for user rights. At present, the law and regulation in this field are lagging behind. Relevant departments urgently need to establish a special protection mechanism to strengthen supervision over internet giants, the state-owned news agency Xinhua said in a commentary yesterday.
Alipay, the third party payment platform owned by the internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. [NYSE:BABA], set a "checked-by-default option on Alipay's annual bills that allowed its credit scoring system to access user data,"Xinhua said. It set it in the licensing agreement to access and share consumers' personal information when users check their annual spending report. The practice has raised concerns about apps' excessive claims to user rights and personal financial information security.
An internet industry practitioner collected data on 109 apps installed on his cell phone and found 104 of them required permission to access the list of installed applications. There were also 80 apps requiring permissions for location information, Xinhua reported.
The cases like Alipay's licensing agreement for annual spending report by default are not accidental, a senior partner at a law firm in Shanghai said. The relevant departments urgently need to make legislation on internet platforms, requiring them to submit clearly-worded and lawful user service agreements.
In addition, it is very important to strengthen the administrative and regulatory supervision of the internet giants' behavior to see whether they are compliant with the law. The regulatory authorities should carry out targeted inspection of the enterprises and establish appropriate administrative punishment mechanisms for personal privacy and information infringement.
Under the current circumstances, however, it is unrealistic to have direct supervision of all apps, said a lawyer at a law firm in Beijing. But the regulatory authorities can start with app stores, strengthen the audit standards for those application platforms and make indirect management through oversight of the platforms to act on apps that require excessive access to user information.