China will require all mobile app developers to register their business with the government or they will not be allowed to list on app stores and provide services to users.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced late on Tuesday that apps without proper filings will be punished after the grace period, which will end in March of next year.
App operators should, in accordance with national laws and regulations, register information including their real names, businesses and more with the telecommunications regulators, the ministry requires.
Network access service providers, app distribution platforms, and smart terminal manufacturers are prohibited from providing services such as network access, distribution, and pre-installation for apps that have not completed the registration procedures, said the ministry.
For apps engaged in Internet information services such as news, publishing, education, film and television, and religion, the ministry requires them to obtain approval from relevant departments for operation before going through registration procedures.
The app's registration is similar to the Internet Content Provider (ICP) filling, a system in which the MIIT grants permits to websites to legally operate within China. Chinese websites often display their ICP filling number at the bottom of their homepage.
For entities that have already gone through the ICP filling system, only the information associated with their apps needs to be submitted.
Shortly after MIIT's announcement, WeChat, the social media platform owned by Tencent, said it will assist mini-program developers in doing the registration work. Mini program is a type of lightweight app that runs in WeChat and can be accessed and used by users without having to download or install it separately.
According to Tencent, starting September 1, all mini-programs will need to be registered before going live. Mini-programs that are already online will need to complete registration before March 31, 2024, or they will be taken down.