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China launches crackdown on mobile web browsers, decries 'chaos' of information

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is seen at the IFA consumer technology fair, in Berlin

China launches crackdown on mobile web browsers, decries 'chaos' of information

FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is seen at the IFA consumer technology fair, in Berlin

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's top cyber authority said on Monday it would carry out a "rectification" of Chinese mobile internet browsers to address what it called social concerns over the "chaos" of information being published online.

China's strict internet censorship rules have been tightened numerous times in recent years and in the latest crackdown, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has told firms operating mobile browsers that they have until Nov. 9 to conduct a "self examination" and rectify problems.

The problems include the spreading of rumours, the use of sensationalist headlines and the publishing of content that violates the core values of socialism, it said in a statement.

"For some time, mobile browsers have grown in an uncivilised way ... and have become a gathering place and amplifier for dissemination of chaos by 'self-media'," the CAC said, referring to independently operated social media accounts, many of which publish news.

"After the rectification, mobile browsers that still have outstanding problems will be dealt with strictly according to laws and regulations until related businesses are banned."

The campaign will initially focus on eight of the most influential mobile browsers in China, including those operated by Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], Alibaba Group Holding's UCWeb and Xiaomi Corp, it said.

Others include the QQ platform owned by Tencent, Qihoo-owned 360, Oppo and Sogou.

Huawei's browser unit said in a statement on Tuesday it would conduct a comprehensive self-examination and clean-up in line with the regulator's requests, and would also place strict controls over 'self media' accounts.

Xiaomi and UCWeb declined to comment, while Tencent, Oppo, Sogou and 360 did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Legislation introduced in recent years by China include measures to restrict media outlets, surveillance measures for media sites and rolling campaigns to remove content deemed unacceptable.

(Reporting by Brenda Goh and Josh Horwitz; Additional reporting by Pei Li in Hong Kong; Writing by Tom Daly; Editing by Susan Fenton and Edwina Gibbs)