China’s cyberspace watchdog on Wednesday said that governance rules for algorithms technology companies will be set up in around three years. The unprecedented move is aimed at tightening Beijing’s grip on tech companies that use algorithms to attract users and increase their consumption time.

Tech companies around the world have been under fire for using algorithms that often result in the spread of disinformation and Western countries have failed to regulate it.

The draft regulations issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China include a proposal to allow users give the option of turning off algorithm recommendation services, giving them greater control over internet services.

Reuters quoted Kendra Schaefer, head of tech policy research at Beijing-based consultancy, as saying ,”As far as I’m concerned, this policy marks the moment that China’s tech regulation is not simply keeping pace with data regulations in the European Union but has gone beyond them”.

The regulations are expected to impact Chinese tech companies like ByteDance Ltd., Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Kuaishou Technology.

The cyberspace watchdog said in a statement that the regulations will “safeguard national security and social public interests, protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens, legal persons, and other organizations…and promote socialist core values.”

Algorithms technology companies should regularly review, evaluate, and verify algorithm mechanisms, models, data and should not set up algorithm models that violate “public order” such as inducing users to increase consumption time.

Companies cannot use algorithms to manipulate user accounts, or falsely like, comment, forward, or navigate web pages to implement “traffic fraud or traffic hijacking”.

They must not use algorithms to block information, for excessive recommendation, manipulation of lists or ranking of search results.

They should provide users with convenient options to turn off algorithm recommendation services and should immediately switch off the algorithm if the users choose to do so.

Companies must disclose the provision of the algorithm recommendation service, and publicize the basic principle, purpose and operation mechanism in a “conspicuous manner.”

They should protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers and not use algorithms to implement “unreasonable trading conditions such as transaction prices” based on consumer preferences and transaction habits.


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