Internet regulators said on Friday that China has issued draft guidelines for regulating algorithms that Internet service providers use to make recommendations to users as part of efforts to protect user privacy and data security.
The National Internet Information Office stated in a statement that service providers must abide by the principles of business ethics and fairness, and must not set up algorithm models to induce users to spend a lot of money or spend money in a way that may disrupt public order.
It stated that algorithms should not be used to create fake user accounts and that users should be provided with the option of easily turning off the algorithm recommendation service, adding that the draft will be open for public comment before September 26.
The move comes at a time when Beijing is launching widespread suppression of its Internet industry, which has seen authorities target and punish companies on issues ranging from monopolistic behavior to consumer privacy.
Earlier this year, the China Consumers Association criticized Internet companies for misusing personal data and “bullying” people in making purchases and promotions. Since then, the official media has repeatedly called for regulating the use of such algorithms.
Global Internet companies use algorithms to predict user preferences and make recommendations. In China, this will include companies such as e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, online ride-hailing company Didi Global, and TikTok owner Bytedance.
© Thomson Reuters 2021