Beijing regulators ban forced app downloads by internet companies

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China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released a document on Thursday regarding a meeting it held in response to complaints from netizens and media reports that some sites are forcing users to download an app. while browsing the page. In response, MIIT urged affected internet companies to address the issue.

The ministry noted that the rapid development of mobile internet services has seen the flourishing of various digital applications, which provide users with extensive access to services. However, in some cases, websites frequently recommend apps with pop-ups to gain users and traffic, or require an app to be downloaded to view full text or other features. As MIIT concluded, these websites cause inconvenience to people browsing the Internet and infringe the legitimate rights and interests of users, drawing strong public criticism.

As a result, regulators have demanded corrective measures from associated Internet companies, requiring that when users browse content, apps cannot be downloaded automatically or forcibly without the user’s consent or personal initiative. When downloading is recommended, the “cancel” option must be provided simultaneously to effectively protect the user’s right to information and choice.

Additionally, absent reasonable and justifiable circumstances, no user will be required to download an app as the sole means of reading a desired text.

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In addition, Internet companies are prohibited from coercing and misleading users into downloading and opening apps, or jumping directly to the App Store through “folded display”, pop-ups active, frequent prompts, and reduced experience. This disrupts the normal information browsing experience of users.

The relevant Internet companies have agreed to earnestly fulfill the relevant requirements, carry out comprehensive self-examination and rectification, improve their services and improve the user experience.

MIIT’s Information and Communications Administration will continuously monitor user-reported issues, strengthen application monitoring and testing, and request and urge Internet companies to effectively protect users’ rights and interests.

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