Tencent must get approval from Chinese regulators before publishing new apps and updates


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People walk past a Tencent sign at the company headquarters in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China August 7, 2020.
David Kirton | Reuters

GUANGZHOU, China — Tencent must get approval from Chinese regulators to send out updates for its apps, state broadcaster CCTV reported Wednesday.

The move comes after regulators found several apps made by China’s most valuable technology company violated data protection rules on a number of occasions this year.

Tencent’s app approvals are currently suspended. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology must review any new apps and updates before they can be launched. This could take seven days, CCTV reported, without citing any sources.

“We are continuously working to enhance user protection features within our apps, and also have regular cooperation with relevant government agencies to ensure regulatory compliance. Our apps remain functional and available for download,” a Tencent spokesperson told CNBC in a statement.

Tencent shares in Hong Kong were up more than 1% in morning trade.

Over the past year, China has been tightening rules on the domestic tech sector which for years has grown largely unencumbered by regulation. Beijing has introduced regulation in areas from antitrust to the way in which algorithms can be used.

One of the biggest regulations passed this year was a landmark personal data protection law. Regulators are focusing heavily on how companies are collecting and processing data. The latest actions against Tencent are part of that process.

The latest move is another blow for Tencent which has felt the impact of China’s regulatory crackdown. In August, regulators introduced rules that limited children under 18 years old to just three hours of online video games a week and during designated windows. At the time, Tencent said only a small part of its revenue comes from such players.

Clampdown on other areas liked the education sector have also weakened advertising appetite which weighed on the company’s third-quarter earnings. Tencent’s third-quarter revenue came in at 142.4 billion yuan, up 13% from a year ago. That was its slowest quarterly revenue growth since going public in 2004, according to Reuters.