The Cyberspace Administration of China has imposed new regulation for the mobile app community, requiring that developers keep a close watch over users and keep a record of their activities. However, the proposed legislation would also prevent apps from requesting unnecessary access to users’ contacts, camera, microphone and other spurious installation requests.

The Chinese internet regulator introduced the new laws in the name of cracking down on illegal use of mobile platforms for the distribution of pornography, fraud and the spread of ‘malicious’ content.

The steps will increase further the Chinese government’s control over the web, and particularly the development and distribution of mobile apps typically used for encrypted communications.

App stores and providers, both domestic and foreign, will now have to verify their users’ identities with a real-name registration system and must save user activity logs for at least 60 days. The laws also stipulate that developers closely monitor users to help identify individuals who distribute banned content.

In a further effort to boost privacy, user consent must be sought before collecting personal and geolocation data, as well as information from contact lists.

‘A small number of apps have been exploited by criminal types to spread violence and terrorism, pornographic material, rumours and other illegal information,’ said the regulator.

The draft laws were submitted yesterday to China’s top legislature. Leading national search operators, including Baidu, have been ordered to report illicit information and verify advertisers starting from August.

The Chinese government is stepping up a huge push to implement its real-name policy which seeks to make everyone use and be known by their true names online. The government argues that pseudonyms could be used to incite hatred, cause offence, encourage illegal organisation and even jeopardise national, security.

The strict directive requires that leading internet service providers cover anything that people could publish on the web, on blogs, micro-blogs, instant communication tools, forums, paste-its, thread comments and other internet information services, without taking credit for it.