Tencent Holdings, China’s social media and gaming giant, has resumed updates for nine of its apps, a sign that regulatory pressure may be easing.

Tencent confirmed to the South China Morning Post on Dec 17 that nine apps, including QQ Music and WeCom, the corporate version of WeChat, have been reviewed and given the green light by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) to resume regular updates in the app stores.

QQ Music, operated by the Shenzhen-based company’s music arm Tencent Music Entertainment (TME), released its latest version on the iOS app store on Thursday, updating the app with new functions that include listening together with a friend and VIP-only sound effects for electronic music.

The new version replaces the last major update issued in early November. QQ Music had 190 million monthly active users in October, according to QuestMobile.

Several mobile game apps also got a green light from the regulator to issue updates, said a Tencent source familiar with the matter, who declined to be named.

The resumption comes three weeks after Chinese regulators suspended Tencent from updating its existing apps or launching new apps, as part of “temporary administrative guidance” directed at the company.

At the time, MIIT ordered app stores and platforms to comply with the administrative punishment against Tencent, which operates dozens of apps, including the all-purpose WeChat that has 1.2 billion users. Tencent said at that time that it was cooperating with the authorities in reviewing its apps.

Tencent currently operates more than 70 active apps and more than 100 games, which are published by Tencent Mobile Games, according to app tracking firm Qimai.

Tencent has run into other update problems in recent months. In July, it suspended new users from signing up for WeChat while it updated the app’s security framework to comply with regulatory changes. New sign-ups resumed in August.

Beijing has been turbocharging its legislative efforts to regulate data in the country, having enacted the Cybersecurity Law in 2017, followed by the Data Security Law this September, which requires firms to undergo a security assessment before receiving approval to send user data overseas.

In November, China enacted the Personal Information Protection Law, one of the world’s toughest regulations for personal data security with far-reaching implications for cross-border data transfers and how companies operate within the country. – South China Morning Post

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