China appears to be moving forward with plans to further regulate smartphones. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology recently filed a notification with the WTO’s Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade of draft regulations governing applications that are pre-loaded on to smartphones. The regulations were initially released for comment on June 1, and attracted much criticism from the industry. The regulations submitted to the WTO are identical to the previously-released draft version.
The draft regulations, which are intended to protect individual data privacy, would bar manufacturers from selling smartphones containing pre-loaded applications that contain malicious code, that alter user data without approval, that contain content that is illegal under Chinese laws, and that infringe on the user’s personal data security interests.
Smartphones are already required to obtain a regulatory network access license before being sold in China, which is a lengthy process. Paul Mozur of the Wall Street Journal predicts that the regulations would require smartphones to undergo an additional round of testing, further lengthening the market-entry process, and would require government approval before the release of any software updates. The Journal also speculates that the regulations could force smartphone makers to help China identify customers and track their use of smartphone applications.