In this biweekly Asia-Pacific Regulatory Spotlight feature, S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a roundup of significant recent regulatory events in the region.
* Beijing Sinnet Technology Co. Ltd., operator of Amazon.com Inc.'s Amazon Web Services in China, said it ordered its local clients to stop using software that would allow Chinese consumers to bypass the country's internet restrictions, The New York Times reported Aug. 1.
* Apple Inc. removed several virtual private networks, or VPNs, which help internet users bypass government censors, from its App Store in China, The Wall Street Journal reported July 29. One service, ExpressVPN, said in a blog post that "all major VPN apps" including its own have been removed from the Chinese App Store because "it includes content that is illegal in China." Another VPN provider, Star VPN, tweeted that its app had also been removed. Apple later confirmed the removals, saying the company was "required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations."
* Twitter Inc. has agreed to provide special access to Indonesia's Information Technology Ministry to report terror-related content that would lead to its deletion, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 4, citing Semuel Pangerapan, director general of information application at the ministry. Meanwhile, Alphabet Inc. unit Google Inc. will also work with several Indonesian nongovernmental organizations to help authorities better police controversial online content on its video-sharing platform YouTube LLC through the roll out of Trusted Flagger, which is expected to be fully functional in the next two to three months.
* India's National Company Law Tribunal has approved the proposed merger between Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Telenor India, the Business Standard reported Aug. 3. In line with its decision, the tribunal directed the telecom operators to hold meetings of their equity shareholders and unsecured creditors in September to secure deal approval. Telenor India's two equity shareholders have already consented to the merger.
JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA
* Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong took the stand in his corruption trial and denied all wrongdoing, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 2. It was the first time Lee has defended himself in the high-profile case, which led to his arrest in February and the impeachment of then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
* The South Korea Fair Trade Commission approved Intel Corp.'s tender offer to buy all the outstanding shares of Israeli autonomous driving technology maker Mobileye NV, according to an Aug.1 press release.
CHINA, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN
* Apple CEO Tim Cook has defended the removal of virtual private network apps from the App Store in China amid concerns over the recent regulatory crackdown and Apple's declining growth in the country, Cook said on the company's fiscal third-quarter earnings call on Aug. 1
* A Beijing civil court ordered the freezing of 250 million Chinese yuan of assets belonging to LeEco's founder Jia Yueting, his elder brother Jia Yuemin, Leshi Internet Information & Technology Co., and Leshi Holdings for up to three years, Sina reported Aug.1. Meanwhile, Ningbo Ecopark, a state-owned industrial park in Ningbo, a potential investor in the company's sports arm, is still conducting due diligence and LeSports is looking for new buyers to purchase the company, Caixin reported Aug. 1.
* LeEco-controlled smartphone supplier Coolpad Group Ltd. is facing legal action after a bank sued one of its subsidiaries, the South China Morning Post reported July 27. The Shenzhen branch of Ping An Bank has filed a civil lawsuit against Coolpad subsidiary Yulong Computer Communication Technology. The bank is demanding early repayment of a loan worth US$11.8 million due in mid-August as the financial situation of the loan guarantor — another Coolpad subsidiary — has deteriorated.
* The Cyberspace Administration of China announced that its internet watchdogs were able to shut down 3,918 illegal websites from April to June, Xinhua News Agency reported July 23. Over 810,000 illicit cyberaccounts were also closed during the second quarter of 2017, while 443 websites were summoned for breaking the law and 172 received warnings.
* The Thai government will establish the National Cybersecurity Commission this August, according to an Aug. 5 Post Today report. The commission will be headed by the prime minister himself and be comprised of two deputy prime ministers, as well as representatives of relevant public and private agencies.
* Thailand's National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission ordered Thai internet service providers, or ISPs, to block webpages prohibited by court order by today after failed attempts to rein in Facebook Inc. and YouTube, the Bangkok Post reported Aug. 4. ISPs are reportedly faced with the possibility of losing their licenses and could be forced to shut down their content delivery networks.
* The Thai cabinet passed a new resolution approving changes to the 5-billion-baht undersea-cable project to upgrade the country's digital infrastructure, Kom Chad Luek reported Aug. 2. TOT Public Co. Ltd. and CAT Telecom will handle the project through their new subsidiary instead of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, among other major detail changes.
* Malaysia's parliament approved two bills that will legalize services like GrabTaxi Holdings Pte Ltd and Uber Technologies Inc., Reuters reported July 27. The amendments to the the country's Land Public Transport Act and the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board Act allows ride-hailing service providers to operate in Malaysia by securing an "intermediation business license."
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND
* Google and Apple have removed 330 apps from their online stores after receiving a request from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. According to Australia's securities regulator on Aug. 1, it contacted both companies about the binary option apps, which were identified as unlicensed and contained "misleading" statements "about the profitability of trading and the amount of profit that could be made."
INDIA AND SOUTH ASIA
* Dish TV India Ltd. and Videocon d2h received approval for their proposed merger from India's National Company Law Tribunal, or NCLT, bringing the deal closer to completion, Television Post reported July 28. Dish TV will next seek the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting's green light. The NCLT's decision will be registered with the Registrar of Companies, with the scheme of arrangement set for Oct. 1.
* Bangladesh-based telco Citycell won back its spectrum after the Supreme Court ordered the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission to return the telco's spectrum and let the operator use it for radio communication, The Daily Star reported July 27.
* The Competition Commission of India has approved the proposed merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular Ltd., The Economic Times (India) reported July 25.