BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s cyber watchdog said on Thursday it has deleted close to 8,000 “malicious” mobile apps including a video game distributed by tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd <0700.HK>, as regulators step up efforts to tighten control over the country’s internet.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement it had ordered telecom operators to shut down the services of 7,873 apps after finding they had overcharged and cheated users as well as stolen information.
It launched the campaign in September with other Chinese government ministries to target “malicious mobile apps that infringe on users’ rights”, the agency said.
Among the apps targeted by the agency was a Chinese version of “Fruit Ninja” developed by iDreamSky Technology Holdings Ltd <1119.HK> and distributed by Tencent.
The game caused economic losses to users by tricking them into signing up to unwanted fee-based services, the agency said.
Other games such as “Bathroom Goddess” and “Naughty Housemaid” that were developed and published by other firms committed “online hooligan activities” like information theft, spamming, and forced downloads.
Tencent and iDreamSky did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
China’s video game market, the world’s largest, has been under strict scrutiny since last year when authorities stopped approving new titles for almost a year. It recently resumed approvals but industry leaders Tencent and NetEase <NTES.O> have yet to receive any.
Political control of the internet has also tightened under President Xi Jinping, an effort that has accelerated since 2016 as the ruling Communist Party seeks to crack down on dissent on social media.
The CAC on Wednesday said it had deleted more than 7 million pieces of online information as well as 9,382 mobile apps, and criticised a news app run by Tencent for spreading “vulgar and low-brow information.
(Reporting by Pei Li and Brenda Goh; Editing by Stephen Coates)