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In the News

Lenovo CEO urges legal steps to protect private info

The smartphone and mobile Internet markets have grown rapidly in China, and many mobile application developers are collecting a wide range of user information, some of which goes beyond what they need to market their products.

For instance, when users install or update smartphone apps, they are asked to allow the apps to read their phonebooks and text messages. Some software developers even ask users to allow a voice recorder to run in the background. Without proper management, data collected from users run the risk of being hacked.

The safety of personal information has raised concerns in the executive offices of many IT firms.

Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo Group Ltd, has urged legislators to make laws to protect people's personal information.

"Compared with the fast-growing mobile Internet industry, current laws concerning the industry are not systematic," he said.

"Some lack supporting rules. Others are difficult to implement. As a result, those who leak or sell people's information illegally pay only a small price," Yang said.

He suggested that the government build an interdepartmental mechanism to strengthen the efforts in law enforcement, accelerate the process of making technical standards of network security, and raise the bar for the safety certification of mobile Internet apps.

"The government should forbid software developers from collecting unnecessary personal information and give the users a choice about whether to authorize the developers to access their information," Yang said.

He noted that most users don't read mobile application authorization agreements very carefully.

Among those who go online with their smartphones, 68.6 percent received spam text messages during the first half of 2013, 57.2 percent received harassing phone calls or text messages and 33.2 percent encountered malware, said a report published last September by the China Internet Network Information Center.

Last year, Chinese mobile payment users reached 125 million, rising 126 percent from 2012, said Qu Xiaodong, vice-president of Qihoo 360 Technology Co Ltd, a provider of Internet and mobile security products.

The booming popularity of mobile payments also brought huge security challenges such as attacks by Trojan horse viruses via the latest technologies.

The malware, disguised as various apps, lured users to install it, said Qu, who said users should download only from reputable app stores.

Other threats involving mobile payments include text message scams.

According to the CNNIC report, 30 percent of the mobile Internet users have never installed network security software on their smartphones. Many people think they don't need it because they have never encountered a security incident. Some are worried that the running speed of their phones will slow down after they install security software.

"The users should be more aware of the potential risks of exposing their personal information," said Qu of Qihoo 360 Technology. "They should install network security software that can tell which apps are collecting sensitive personal information by reading their text messages, call logs and phonebooks or using GPS to track their positions."


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