Beijing to ask for stricter live-streaming app checks

Bloomberg

Fri, Apr 21, 2017 - Page 10

Chinese regulators are to demand that Apple Inc strengthen the review process for live-streaming applications it sells in its App Store, the latest in a series of encroachments on the iPhone maker’s services in Asia’s largest economy.

The Beijing Cyberspace Administration is summoning Apple to ask that it subject Chinese news and live-streaming services to more stringent app reviews to ensure that they conform with regulations, the agency said on Tuesday in a statement on its WeChat (微信) social media account.

Local content providers Toutiao (今日頭條), Huoshanzhibo (火山直播) and Huajiao (花椒直播) have failed to comply with legal requirements, the agency said.

All three offer apps on the Chinese edition of Apple’s App Store.

“These services lack rules on verifying information, dealing with emergency situations and guaranteeing their technology,” the regulator said. “They also have significant loopholes in supervising live-streaming content, managing viewers, verifying the identities of users and dealing with complaints from the public.”

Apple spokesman Josh Rosenstock did not respond to a request for comment.

Unlike Google Play, which is banned in China, the App Store is open to Chinese consumers and helped drive surging sales growth from services last year.

Yet, Apple has encountered mounting resistance from Chinese regulators. It was forced to shutter its iTunes Movies and iBooks services last year, just six months after they were first permitted to operate, and lost a series of patent and trademark disputes to little-known Chinese rivals.

In return, Apple CEO Tim Cook has sought to improve Apple’s standing in China with a series of investments.

He is opening new research and development facilities in the country and bought a US$1 billion stake in Didi Chuxing (滴滴出行), China’s biggest ride-hailing service.

China last year announced new regulations for mobile developers that required them to verify users’ identities with information such as mobile phone numbers, as well as to monitor and report postings that contained banned content to relevant authorities.

App makers have to keep a record of user logs for 60 days, the rules stipulate.

When developers submit their product to the App Store, they are subjected to a review process that evaluates quality and tries to ensure there are no bugs.

The Chinese State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television requires approval for new mobile games on the App Store, Sina reported in June last year.