Recently, AppInChina has received a growing number of inquiries from developers asking why their apps are no longer available in Mainland China. After communicating with the major Chinese Android app stores and relevant government departments, we have listed the four most common reasons below.
Requirements for publishing an app used to be minimal until recently, when a series of new measures were implemented to regulate China’s fast-moving app market, ensuring that only qualified publishers with the legally required licenses, certificates and filings can publish apps after a thorough review of the publishing entity, the app, and intellectual property ownership.
App stores may contact the developers of apps that were already published prior to the implementation of these regulations and require them to obtain and submit any missing documents within a specified time frame. Apps will be removed if they fail to comply with the requirements communicated by the app stores, as all app stores are responsible for ensuring that apps published on their platforms are compliant with Chinese laws and regulations.
The most commonly required licenses, certificates and filings are:
– Internet Content Provider (ICP) Filing
The most basic requirement for any entity publishing any online content in China is an ICP Filing. This requirement has been enforced by all of the major Chinese Android app stores since 2020. We have a comprehensive guide on ICP Filing if you would like to learn more.
– Software Copyright Certificate (SCC)
An SCC is a legal document issued on a per-software basis by the National Copyright Administration of the People’s Republic of China that proves ownership and protects the copyright of the app developer in the event of disputes over unauthorized copies. Aside from serving as proof of ownership, major app stores such as Xiaomi, Huawei, and others list SCC as a required document for publishing. Apple also demands an SCC in order to run Apple Search Ads (ASA) in Mainland China. An SCC can typically be obtained within a month but this can take longer if the SCC is being applied for by a non-Chinese entity. Click here for more information on how to apply for one.
Depending on the industry, additional licenses may be required, such as a B25 Commercial ICP license and a B21 EDI license for an online shopping app, an ISBN for an e-book / audiobook app or video game. Contact us today for a free assessment to confirm all of the licenses, certificates and filings that your application is required to obtain.
China’s Data Security Law came into effect in September 2021, followed by the Personal Information Protection Law in November 2021 and the exposure draft of the Measures for the Security Assessment of Outbound Data to be promulgated soon, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) is gradually establishing a series of measures to oversee data collection, processing, and transfer.
App developers publishing in China are expected to keep abreast of the announcement of each of the above-mentioned laws and measures. Apps that collect personal information (especially sensitive personal information) or general information at a large scale must follow protocols for data localization, security measures such as the MLPS, and registration with relevant authorities such as the CAC. In 2021, over a thousand apps were delisted from Chinese Android app stores due to illegal or inappropriate user information collection, including popular social apps with over 10 million MAUs such as Douban and Changba.
Unlike apps that operate outside of Mainland China, the government has announced a set of rules to govern what types of apps can be published and what content they can contain and disseminate.
If you’ve read our guide on Content Restrictions for Publishing an App in China, you’ll understand that content review is part of the ongoing operational compliance required to maintain an app in China. The publishing platform’s pre-distribution content review ensures that an app does not contain illegal or disruptive content, whereas app developers’ post-publishing content review monitors and moderates user-generated content that violates Chinese law, spreads false or vulgar information, or threatens the security and order of society. Apps without measures to review user-generated content have a high risk of being taken down.
If your app is accessible in Chinese app stores but does not have a content review API integrated yet, contact us for a cost-effective solution to keep your app compliant and available in China.
To ensure that each app provides the best possible user experience, app stores have their own in-house protocols for app update frequency. Xiaomi, for example, is likely to remove apps that haven’t received an update in over 6 months. In China, Apple’s app store has a history of removing apps that haven’t been updated in over a year.
If you are experiencing any issues with the distribution of your app on app stores in China then we’d be happy to help. Just click here to schedule a consultation.