The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on January 13, 2017 issued a notice concerning registration of Internet app stores. The notice requires that, effective January 16, all app stores must register with the provincial-level cyberspace authority which granted the applicant an Internet Content Provider (ICP) filing or license to the app store service provider within 30 days after the online business is launched. This enables the cyberspace authority to regulate the app store offerings.
The CAC's spokesperson stated that many apps have been found to disseminate illegal information, violate online user rights or endanger societal security, and thus the notice aims to identify the relevant responsible person if any apps or app stores are found to engage in such illegal practices.
The notice is intended to implement the Regulations on the Administration of Mobile Internet App Information Services issued by CAC on June 28, 2016, which barred apps from engaging in any activities deemed to endanger national security or disrupt societal order.
The notice follows a December 23, 2016 order to remove both the English and Chinese language news apps of The New York Times from China app stores, which were said to violate Chinese regulations.
While the impact the notice will have on China's mobile Internet is unclear, it could ultimately lead to a culling of apps that store owners are uncomfortable with, especially those from foreign companies, which are less subject to censorship. This may affect sales and marketing as well as the dissemination of information.