Beijing Regulators Ban Forced App Downloads by Internet Firms

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) published a document on Thursday regarding a meeting it held in response to complaints from web users and media reports that some websites compel users to download an app while browsing the page. In response, the MIIT urged relevant internet companies to rectify this problem.

It was noted by the department 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 the download of an app to view the full text or other features. As the MIIT concluded, these websites cause inconvenience to individuals browsing the internet and infringe the legitimate rights and interests of users, sparking strong public criticism.

Accordingly, regulators demanded rectification measures from associated internet enterprises, requiring that when users browse content, apps cannot be automatically or forcibly downloaded without the user’s consent or personal initiative. When downloading is recommended, the option of “cancel” should be provided simultaneously to effectively protect the user’s right to information and choice.

Also, in the absence of reasonable and justifiable circumstances, no user shall be required to download an app as the only means of reading a desired text.

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Furthermore, internet enterprises are prohibited from forcing and misleading users to download and open apps, or skip to the app store by means of a “folded display,” active pop-up windows, frequent prompts and reduced experience. This disturbs the normal information browsing experience of users.

Relevant internet enterprises have agreed to seriously fulfill the relevant requirements, conduct comprehensive self-examination and rectification, improve their services and improve user experience.

The Information and Communication Administration of the MIIT will constantly monitor problems reported by users, strengthen monitoring and testing of apps, and instruct and urge internet enterprises to effectively safeguard the rights and interests of users.