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China clamping down on mobile web browsers over dissemination of 'chaos'

China clamping down on mobile web browsers over dissemination of 'chaos'
© istock

China’s top cybersecurity agency on Monday announced plans for a "rectification" of Chinese mobile internet browsers, which the group argues “have become a gathering place” of “chaos.” 

According to Reuters, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement Monday that mobile browsers in China have until Nov. 9 to complete a "self examination" to address issues including the spread of misinformation, sensational headlines and content that conflicts with the values of socialism.

"For some time, mobile browsers have grown in an uncivilised way ... and have become a gathering place and amplifier for dissemination of chaos by 'self-media'," the CAC said, referring to news-centered social media accounts independent of the Chinese government. 

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"After the rectification, mobile browsers that still have outstanding problems will be dealt with strictly according to laws and regulations until related businesses are banned,” the agency added. 

Reuters reported that the CAC announced it will initially be focusing on the top eight mobile browsers in the country, which include those run by Huawei Technologies, Alibaba Group Holding's UCWeb and Xiaomi. 

Huawei said in a statement that it would be complying with the CAC’s newly announced protocols, while Xiaomi and UCWeb declined to comment when contacted by Reuters. 

In recent years, China has implemented laws and regulations to moderate online speech within the country. 

A 2017 cybersecurity law mandates that online data be stored by the Chinese government, with organizations and online platforms being required to undergo security checks. 

China’s policing of online information and technologies have raised larger concerns globally, with the U.S. Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC) publishing a white paper last week highlighting the “China problem” faced by the security of the information and communications technologies (ICT) supply chain. 

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The CSC detailed concerns around U.S. reliance on critical technologies manufactured by China, along with concerns that the U.S. is falling behind on the international stage due to the lack of a cohesive strategy to challenge China’s technological dominance.

“The imperative is clear. Chinese government interventions in its own domestic industry, in global trade, and in standard-setting bodies has created an uneven playing field on which companies in the United States and partner countries struggle to compete,” the CSC wrote in the white paper. “Now is the time for strategic cohesion. Without an ICT industrial base strategy, America risks falling behind competitively and leaving its citizens at serious risk.”

Chinese cyberspace companies, including Huawei and social media platform TikTok, owned by Chinese group ByteDance, have come under close scrutiny by the Trump administration and congressional lawmakers due to concerns over data security and privacy.