The Cyberspace Administration of China wants all app stores to be registered, as the watchdog strengthens its control of the market.
While app stores in China belonging to companies like Apple and Alibaba have rules for developers, China has many third party app stores with no restrictions (and Google Play is banned).
The regulator said the move is needed to protect users from theft and fraud as well as restrict stolen content such as books and movies. But it follows the introduction of new polices for developers and app stores which stipulate they must monitor and report banned content.
As a result of this, earlier this month Apple came under the spotlight after it pulled The New York Times app in the country, following pressure from authorities.
According to Engadget: “A registration requirement ultimately helps enforce this measure – the government will have records that it can wield when it wants to target apps or whole stores.”
“This could have a positive effect for Chinese smartphone owners, since they don’t have official access to Google Play and its tighter security screening. However, it’s bad news for anyone hoping to offer apps that normally won’t make it past the censors,” the publication added.
Last month, Tencent’s WeChat messaging app was found to censor messages that include certain key words related to some social issues and politics, even when users travel outside of the country.
More recently, China’s state censor said it will not license augmented reality games such as Pokemon Go until it has assessed potential security risks.