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China slams Qihoo for unfair competition

[UPDATE] Regulator alleged Qihoo had made its free security software difficult to uninstall, falsely claimed other browsers were incompatible or unsafe in warning messages, and faked a Microsoft patch to force downloads.

China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has slapped local Web firm Qihoo with a warning for unfair competition.

According to China's Industry and Commerce News site on Thursday, quoting the microblog of Beijing's Administration for Industry and Commerce, Qihoo had been warned last Thursday.

qihoo-360-q3-profit-up-18-percent-on-revenue-jump

The administration said Qihoo had made its free security software, 360, difficult to uninstall. The software also offered warning messages claiming other browsers other than its own were incompatible with users' systems or were unsafe.

In August 2012, 360 also urged users to download what it falsely claimed was an important Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) patch, the KB360018. When users clicked through, they were reportedly forced to install Qihoo's 360 browser product.

The Chinese regulator also noted it was good that the Beijing Bureau Commerce and Industry issued the warning as it was a move to "purify" the Internet. It also urged Qihoo to come up with "corrective measures" for its acts.

Last week, Qihoo's apps had been "abruptly removed" from Apple's iTunes store for no reason, coming after a warning issued by the Beijing watchdog on its microblog that Qihoo's antivirus software in Internet browsers was considered unfair competition, Bloomberg reported.

The government is not the first to raise issues over Qihoo's anti-competitive moves. Another Chinese Internet company, Tencent, also sued Qihoo for unfair competition in September last year, claiming 360's release of "KouKou Bodyguard" security software in 2010 targeted and made modifications to its QQ instant-messaging software, causing Tencent to lose income from its value-added services and advertisements.

Anonymous Analytics, the research arm of hacktivist group Anonymous, had also alleged the Chinese Internet firm overstated the volume of traffic to hao.360.cn in a bid to attract. advertisers, a July 2012 report by the research arm, stated. Qihoo however, denied allegations made by Anonymous Analytics, stating it was "inaccurate" and a repetition of what "other short sellers" said previously, a separate report by Bloomberg, noted.

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