China issues new guidelines to regulate internet algorithm

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
  • Follow author on
Representational Image

China, in line with its efforts to protect the privacy and data security of people, has issued new draft guidelines on regulating the algorithms used by internet service providers to make recommendations to users, the internet regulator said.

According to the Cyberspace Administration of China, the service providers must obey business ethics and principles of fairness and should not set up algorithm models that allure users to spend large amounts of money or spend money in a way that may disrupt public order.

Further, the guidelines state that the algorithms should not be used to create fake user accounts and users should be given the option to easily turn off algorithm recommendation services. The draft is open for public feedback until September 26.

The current move comes in line with a wide-ranging crackdown by the government on the country’s internet sector, which has seen authorities target and punishes companies on issues ranging from monopolistic behavior to consumer privacy.

The Chinese Consumer Association, earlier this year, raised questions against internet companies for misusing personal data and “bullying” people into purchases and promotions. State media have since issued multiple calls for regulating the use of such algorithms.

Internet companies globally use algorithms to predict user preferences and make recommendations. In China, the new guidelines appear to target ByteDance, Alibaba Group, Tencent, and Didi and other companies whose services are built on top of proprietary algorithms.

China recently passed a data security law that will go into effect on September 1 to protect internet users’ rights in cyberspace and impose curbs on its fast-growing internet industry.

Related: China market regulator tightens rules on unfair internet competition