Taiwan Seeks to Regulate Mobile App Users and Online Gamers

The Taiwanese government recently ordered new consumer protection regulations to curtail fraud and other predatory actions over members of the mobile app and online gaming industry.

According to coverage from the English edition of the Taipei Times, the regulations arose from the Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee (CPC) with proposals that cover a variety of provisions. In particular, the proposed rules would place consumer rights over anything else. Specifically, the regulations will dictate what companies can insert into an end-user agreement for mobile apps. Additionally, the committee has further ordered adding game and app developers to place a slew of warning labels on their products while publicly reporting overseen transactions data.

The committee indicated that the final revisions of the regulations will be promulgated at the beginning of next month. These rules willl directly impact an industry of around 8.9 million gamers and avid mobile application users. 97 percent of this population play online games with the most common medium for gaming being mobile smartphones.

CPC further indicated that among the 54,255 total incidents, over 3,000 cases of consumer protection complaints were dealt with and resolved. Due to these findings, the gaming industry in Taiwan is reportedly the most complaint-prone industry within the entire Republic of China. According to the same above-mentioned Times coverage, "the most prevalent kinds of disputes involve account cancelation, unwanted app downloads, intermittent or poor connections and theft of accounts or in-game items."

The Ministry of Economic Affairs for the Republic of China indicated in a statement sent to the available media coverage that the regulations will cover "a wide range of online activities, from commercial transactions and lotteries to the purchase of in-game virtual currency." Overall, any penalties levied against companies stemming from complaints will be accompanied by a fine of up to NT$500,000 per the Taiwanese Consumer Protection Act.

Previously, the CPC has passed similar regulations governing rules surrounding e-commerce and other digital content and transferance of information.

"Due to the rapid development of e-commerce, online transactions have become increasingly complicated. In order to deal with the various challenges that consumers are facing … build a consumer-friendly e-commerce environment," press release from the Department of Consumer Protection, Executive Yuan, adding that the new regulations, "improve the fairness in commercial, advertising and marketing activities," and "coordinate the levels of protection in different means of payment."

Other provisions include protections for children on the internet, informational protections and overall consumer protections.

"The government should encourage the payment service industry to provide appropriate, affordable and easy-to-use dispute resolution and redress mechanisms; the payment service provider should ask payment platforms to save records in order to facilitate consumer claims," the press release indicates. "The government and stakeholders should use bilateral and multilateral agreements to strengthen international cooperation and exchanges and an appropriate response should be given to international assistance on investigations and joint enforcements."

Regulations all over the world similar to Taiwan’s newest rules are popping up everywhere.

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