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Guidelines for the Establishment of Minors’ Modes for the Mobile Internet (Draft for solicitation of comments)

[Source]http://www.cac.gov.cn/2023-08/02/c_1692541991073784.htm

1. Goals and Basis

These Guidelines are drafted on the basis of the PRC Cybersecurity Law, PRC Personal Information Protection Law, PRC Law on Protection of Minors, and other laws, administrative regulations, and provisions on the protection of minors online, in order to better give play to the positive role of the internet, create a good online environment, and prevent and intervene in the problem of minors’ internet addiction.

2. Scope of Application

These Guidelines provide the basic requirements, function requirements, and management requirements that must be met by minors' modes on all types of mobile smart terminals, mobile internet applications (hereinafter “application”), and mobile internet application distribution service platforms (hereinafter “application distribution platforms”), and apply to mobile smart terminal providers, application providers, application distribution platform providers, and other relevant entities carrying out research, development, and use of minor modes.

3. General Specifications

(1) Three-party linkage

Linkage should be achieved between mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms:

1. Minors' modes should have automatic switching functions. After minors' mode is initiated with a single click on a mobile smart terminal, applications, and application distribution platforms should automatically switch to minors' mode interfaces; after mobile smart terminals exit minors' mode, applications and application distribution platforms should automatically switch to normal mode interfaces.

2. Minors' modes should support parents or minor users in conducting uniform setup by account on multiple mobile smart terminals (including multiple smart terminals of the same or different models from the same manufacturer). By signing in to a unified account, users automatically copy and locally activate that account’s configurations that are already on other mobile smart terminals.

3. Mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms should provide the necessary interfaces and data sharing between them to satisfy functions such as for the prevention of minors’ internet addiction and for parental oversight.

(2) Ease of use

1. In order to protect minors’ rights and interest in personal information, parents are encouraged to activate minors' modes for minors, and mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms should provide convenient functions and services for parental management to facilitate parents fulfillment of their guardianship duties and guide minors to form positive online habits.

2. Mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms shall adhere to the principle of the best interest of minors, provide effective functions such as for identifying information that is illegal or might impact minors’ physical or mental wellbeing, and for preventing minors’ addiction to the internet, and strengthen the protection of minors online.

3. Mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms should establish easy, reasonable, and effective channels for making complaints and reports in minors' modes, and promptly accept and address complaints and reports involving minors.

(3) Age classification principle

Based on the physical and mental development traits of minors at different age stages, mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms should provide information and service appropriate to the physical and mental development of the different age stages through assessments of product elements such as their type, content, and functions. The age classification design is divided according to the following five age intervals: [Translation has phrased these as inclusive of the listed ages]

1. Not yet 3 years-old;

2. From 3 to 7 years old;

3. From 8 and 11 years old;

4. From 12 to 15 years old;

5. From 16 to 17 years old.

4. Requirements for Minors' Modes in Mobile Smart Terminals

(1) Basic requirements

1. Entry into minors' mode

The setup of entry into minors' modes should ensure the principle of maximum simplicity. Users may enter minors' mode through at least the 3 methods of startup alerts, desktop icons, and system settings. Entry into the mode should be in a fixed position and easy to locate, making it so that parents and minor users can enter or switch modes with a single click.

When users sign in to minors' mode for the first time, on entry the mobile smart terminals should provide users with a choice of multiple methods such as setting their birthday or selecting their age or age range, and allow information to be set for multiple minors.

Users may select that they do not require minors' mode when turning on the device for the first time or in the system settings, and the system will not present further reminders.

2. Exiting minors' mode

When exiting minors' mode, parents must give verified consent, and based on the existing verification mechanisms of the mobile smart terminal, parents may conduct single or compound verifications through identification methods such as a self-selected password, fingerprints, or facial recognition.

(2) Management of usage durations

1. Mobile smart terminals should provide management services for differentiated usage durations for minors in different age brackets. When the time limits for daily usage are exceeded, the mobile smart terminal should automatically close applications other than those specified as necessary or set as exceptions by the parents.

(1) In minors' modes for users who are not yet 8 years old, the mobile smart terminal should support a default total usage time that does not exceed 40 minutes, and provide parents with an operation to make exceptions at the same time;

(2) In minors' modes for users who are between 8 and 15 years old, the mobile smart terminal should support a default total usage time that does not exceed 1 hour, and provide parents with an operation to make exceptions at the same time;

(3) In minors' modes for users who are between 16 and 17 years old, the mobile smart terminal should support a default total usage time that does not exceed 2 hours, and provide parents with an operation to make exceptions at the same time;

(4) In minors' modes, mobile smart terminals should give a reminder to take a break when minor users have used the mobile smart terminal for 30 consecutive minutes.

(5) In minors' modes, mobile smart terminals are prohibited from providing services to minors between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM each day;

(6) The following applications and operations are not limited by the usage durations and time limits described above:

①Emergency type: Products and services used to ensure the physical safety of minors, including emergency call services and applications defined by the mobile smart terminals as being used in ensuring the physical safety of minors;

② Education type: Products and services that have filed with the competent departments to provide online classes and other educational services to minors;

③ Tools suitable for use by minors: Products and service certified by application distribution platforms as suited to the physical and mental development of minors, such as image processing, calculation, and measurement applications;

④Other applications that parents have defined as exceptions.

2. In mobile smart terminals’ minors' modes, time management functions for parental use should have at least the following functions:

(1) Setting device-wide usage durations for the mobile smart terminal;

(2) Setting device-wide usage time periods, allowing for one or several usage periods to be set based on specific needs;

(3) Setting usage times for designated applications;

(4) Prohibiting minors from changing the date and time in the mobile smart terminals’ system.

(3) Requirements for preventing circumvention

1. Mobile smart terminals should have functions for preventing circumvention. After entering minors' mode, mobile smart terminals should only allow exiting minors' mode or restoring factory settings after parental verification.

2. Mobile smart terminals that have activated minors' mode should ensure that the icon for minors' mode service functions is always kept on the top level of the desktop and is not uninstalled, frozen, or concealed, and that the process is not forced to end.

3. In minors' mode, if it is necessary to initiate developer mode, parents should verify and confirm this.

(4) Supplementary requirements

1. Because of minors’ physiological and psychological immaturity, such as in their vision and hearing, mobile smart terminals are encouraged to use technical methods to reduce or eliminate harms to minors that might occur during the use of mobile smart terminals.

2. Mobile smart terminals should provide minor users with emergency services to send their position and call to associated parent user terminals.

3. When kid’s smart watches, early learning devices, smart speakers, and other smart equipment for children, as well as wearable virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR) equipment provide services to minors, they shall comply with the relevant articles of these provisions, ensure that information content is secure and reliable, and prevent minors from becoming addicted to the internet or coming in contact with information that might impact their physical or mental wellbeing.

4. Existing application’s youth modes should be retained under the mobile smart terminals’ normal mode, and upgraded in accordance with the relevant requirements of these Guidelines to provide security precautions for minors using existing applications in normal modes.

5. Requirements for Minor's Modes in Mobile Internet Applications

(1) Basic requirements

In minors' mode, mobile internet information service providers should provide minors with age-differentiated content services, and create dedicated content pools. Age-appropriate content recommendations are as follows:

1. Under 3 years old: Recommend children’s songs, elementary education, and other program content for children and parents, primarily recommending audio;

2. 3 to 7 years old: Recommend elementary education, interest area cultivation, general education, and other such program content;

3. 8 to 11 years old: Recommend general education, popular science, life skills, entertainment content with positive guidance, and news information suited to the cognitive abilities of that age range, etc.;

4. 12 to 15 years old: Recommend general education, academic subject education, popular science, life skills, entertainment content with positive guidance, and news information suited to the cognitive abilities of that age range, etc.

5. 16 to 17 years old: Recommend healthy and uplifting information content suited to the cognitive abilities of that age range.

Mobile internet information service providers are encouraged to lable content in the dedicated minors’ content pool for age appropriateness.

(2) Content security requirements

In minors' mode, mobile internet information service providers should fulfill primary responsibility, ensuring the safety of information content that minors have contact with.

1. In minors' mode, mobile internet information service providers should actively carry out the establishment of content pools for minors. Create, reproduce, publish, and disseminate online information that carries forward the Core Socialist Values and advanced socialist culture, revolutionary culture, and the exception traditional Chinese culture; solidifies the sense of community among the Chinese people, cultivates minors' feelings for their home country and their good moral character, and guides minors to cultivate positive habits in their lives and conduct; to create a clean cyberspace and online ecology that is conducive to minors healthy development.

2. Mobile internet information service providers should fulfill primary responsibility, and products or services that induce internet addiction or are not conducive to minor’s physical or mental well-being should not be provided to minors in any form in minors' mode:

(1) The use of networks to produce, reproduce, publish, or transmit information with content that is harmful to minors' physical or psychological health is prohibited; and it is prohibited to send information to minors with content that is harmful or might impact minor’s physical and mental health;

(2) The production, reproduction, publication, dissemination, or possession of pornographic online information related to minors is prohibited, and it is prohibited to entice or compel minors to produce, reproduce, publish, or transmit text, pictures, and audiovisual materials that might disclose their private privacy;

(3) The production, reproduction, publication, and dissemination of information that might lead or entice minors to imitate unsafe conduct, carry out conduct that violates social mores, cause negative feelings, form bad habits, or that might otherwise impact minors' physical or mental wellbeing is prohibited;

(3) Requirements for restricting functions

In minors' modes, mobile internet information service providers should limit products and services whose use might harm the physical or mental wellbeing of minor users.

1. Providers of online services such as for livestreaming, online a/v works, and social media should set up functions for managing usage time, privileges, and spending for minors using their services.

2. Providers of online services such as for livestreaming, online a/v works, and social media should employ measures to reasonably limit the amounts that minors can spend as single payments and daily totals on online products or services, and must not provide payment services to minors that do not match their capacity for civil action.

3. Online communities, groups, and topics must not be set up on themes such as fundraising to help, voting for rankings, traffic and review manipulation, and functions and content that gamifies everything must be used to induce internet addiction in minors.

4. Follow the relevant management provisions for the requirements of online games to prevent addiction.

5. Online education network products and services must not insert links to online games, or push advertisements and other information unrelated to teaching.

6. The providers of algorithmic recommendation services must not push information to minors that might impact minors' physical and psychological health such as possibly leading them to imitate unsafe behaviors and conduct contrary to social mores or inducing negative habits, and must not use algorithmic recommendation services to induce minors' addiction to the internet.

7. Application developers are encouraged to follow relevant laws and regulations to develop applications suited to the rules and traits of minors’ physical and mental development and to assist minors in cultivating good online literacy.

(4) Requirements for the Management of Social Media

1. Applications should provide social media management permissions for minors and parents, allowing the following or blocking of specified users, and limiting the scope of disclosure for specified information.

2. Social media type applications should not provide links in minors' mode to internet information that easily leads to internet addiction or is adverse to the physical and mental wellbeing of minors that have contact with it.

3. Applications other than instant messaging tools should stop private messaging functions with unknown persons in minors' mode.

6. Requirements for Minors' Modes on Internet Application Distribution Service Platforms

(1) Basic requirements

1. Application distribution platforms should provide special areas for the use of minors, to facilitate minors obtaining products and services on the platform that are conducive to their physical and mental well-being;

2. Application distribution platforms should label applications with recommended ages based on the physical and psychological characteristics and cognitive levels of minors in different age groups, and provide applications suitable for minors in different age brackets.

(2) Establishment of dedicated areas for minors

Application distribution platforms should strengthen the establishment of dedicated areas for minors based on relevant management requirements;

1. Application providers shall adhere to the principle of the best interest of minors, pay attention to the healthy growth of minors, perform each obligation to protect minors online, and strictly implement real-name registration and login requirements for minors' accounts; they must not provide products and services that induce internet addiction to minor users in any form.

2. Applications conducive to minors' physical and mental well-being, such as for education, intelligence, popular science, reading, music, and sports are encouraged to be made available in the dedicated area for minors.

3. Applications that the relevant departments have clearly prohibited for any age range of minor must not be made available in application distribution platforms in minors' mode.

(3) Download security

Based on relevant laws and regulations, application distribution platforms should conduct a review and make a disposition on allowing entry of online applications and services in minors' mode.

1. Clarify the age range of minor users for which products are appropriate, and put alerts in conspicuous positions such as user download, registration, or sign-in interfaces.

2. Application distribution platforms should provide differentiated download services to minor users based on the minors’ age traits, and ensure that parents may review and make exceptions for downloads and installations in minors' mode:

(1) When minor users under 12 years old download and install applications from the dedicated area for minors, they must have the parents’ consent; parents have definite exemption authority to allow minors to download applications from outside the dedicated area for minors;

(2) Minor users between 12 and 15 years old may download and install applications from the dedicated area for minors on their own; parents have definite exemption authority to allow minors to download applications from outside the dedicated area for minors.

3. It is prohibited to download applications through external links, except where parents have reviewed them and made an exception.

4. Application distribution platforms should establish corresponding reporting mechanisms, strengthening user oversight of information content and services in minors' mode, and removing related applications when necessary based on management requirements.

7. Parental Management

(1) Basic requirements

In minors' mode, mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms should provide parents with management permissions, ensuring that parents can conduct routine and emergency management of designated user accounts, to better oversee and guide minor users’ conduct online;

1. Mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms should provide parents with management permissions in areas such as the duration of minors' usage, the information received, and applications downloaded and installed, to meet the requirements of parents in overseeing, making exceptions, and reviewing minor users.

2. Mobile smart terminals should provide minors’ accounts with at least 1 family account as the parental account, and that account can allow the parent to use the same or a different terminal from the minor, and can be simultaneously linked to applications and application distribution platforms.

(2) Parents' management of minors time using mobile smart terminals

Mobile smart terminals and applications should provide minors and their parents with alerts on preventing internet addiction, allowing parents to conduct oversight and guidance of minors’ usage time on mobile smart terminals:

1. Mobile smart terminals should periodically provide overview reports on minors’ duration of use, duration of use of each application, and duration online in minors' mode, and assist parents in conducting oversight of minors’ conduct online.

2. When the duration of minor users' use exceeds the recommendations of these provisions, the minor user may request an exception from the associated parent user.

(3) Parental management of minors' information service content

Parents may use functions provided to their associated account to review and exempt information content in minors' mode.

1. Parents may make exceptions for information outside the dedicated content pool, adding it to the designated minor user’s content pool.

2. Parents are encouraged to label and recommend content that is not in the dedicated content pool, to provide a basis for the platform in enriching the dedicated content pool.

(4) Parental management of minors' use of applications

Parents may use associated accounts to conduct reviews of application downloads in minors' mode, and may make exceptions or prohibitions on users’ downloads and installation of specified applications. Including:

1. Permissions to make specified applications always exempt, such as permissions to open educational supplement applications for lengthy usage by minors.

2. Permissions to make specified applications open for a limited time, such as opening application tools that are suitable for minors’ physical and mental development for usage during a specified time period.

3. Setting specified applications and functions to have usage always prohibited, and during this period, the related applications must not have pop-up notifications and must not be used.

4. Applications and services that related regulations clearly prohibit the use of by minors must not be exempted.

8. Management Requirements

(1) mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms should actively cooperate with the relevant regulatory departments in carrying out oversight inspections, providing necessary technical and data support and assistance.

(2) mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms providing services to minor users should periodically carry out impact assessments for the online protection of minors.

(3) mobile smart terminals, applications, and application distribution platforms providing services to minor users should establish necessary emergency response mechanisms, and ensure that emergency operations for the protection of minors' physical safety are not blocked.

(4) In minors' mode, mobile internet information service providers should provide services in accordance with laws and regulations and should not collect data beyond the scope.

 

Appendix: Terms and Definitions

(1) Minors' Mode

Minors' Mode as used in these Guidelines refers to online protection modes to be used by minors that are suited to the rules and characteristics of minors' physical and mental development, and which cover mobile smart terminals, mobile internet applications, and mobile internet application distribution platforms.

(2) Mobile Smart Terminal

Mobile smart terminal refers to mobile terminal products that can access public mobile information networks, have operating systems, and can have users install, operate, and uninstall applications, including cell phones, tablet computers, kid’s smart watches, early-learning machines, and other smart terminals and wearable smart equipment.

(3) Mobile Internet Applications

Mobile internet applications refers to software using applications to provide users with services such as the production, reproduction, publication, and transmission of information such as text, images, audio, or video.

(4) Mobile Internet Application Distribution Service Platforms

Mobile internet application distribution service platforms refers to platforms providing services such as the publication, downloading, and dynamic loading of applications through the internet, including application stores, app centers, and internet mini-program platforms.

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