China steps up tech scrutiny with rules over unfair competition, critical data

Platform News: China

China has moved to tighten control of its technology sector, publishing detailed rules aimed at tackling unfair competition and companies’ handling of critical data.

Beijing has been firming its grip on internet platforms in recent months, citing the risk of abusing market power to stifle competition, misuse of consumers’ information and violation of consumer rights, in a reversal after years of a more laissez-faire approach.

It has issued hefty fines to companies including e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and social media company Tencent Holdings as part of a widening crackdown and has vowed to draft new laws around technology innovation and monopolies.

On Tuesday, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) issued a set of draft regulations banning unfair competition and restricting the use of user data.

Shares in Hong Kong-listed internet stocks slid after the rules were published. Video platform Bilibili Inc fell 7.4%, while Tencent, Alibaba, and food-delivery service Meituan dropped 4.1%, 4.2%, and 2.6%, respectively.

“The proposed regulations’ specificity evidences a clear set of priorities in setting the ‘rules of engagement’ for online competition,” said Michael Norris, research and strategy manager at Shanghai-based consultancy AgencyChina.

“If promulgated, the regulations will likely increase compliance burdens for transaction platforms, including e-commerce marketplaces and shoppable short video apps.”

NO HIJACKING OF TRAFFIC

Internet operators “must not implement or assist in the implementation of unfair competition on the Internet, disrupt the order of market competition, affect fair transactions in the market,” the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) wrote in the draft, which is open to public feedback before a Sept. 15 deadline.

Related Article:
Nokia to cut a third of jobs at French arm Alcatel-Lucent

Specifically, the regulator stated, business operators should not use data or algorithms to hijack traffic or influence users’ choices. They may also not use technical means to illegally capture or use other business operators’ data.

Companies would also be barred from fabricating or spreading misleading information to damage the reputation of competitors and need to stop marketing practices like fake reviews and coupons or “red envelopes” – cash incentives – used to entice positive ratings.

Soon after the draft tech rules were published, China’s cabinet announced it would also implement regulations on protecting critical information infrastructure from Sept. 1.

The State Council said any purchases of internet products and services that may affect national security by operators should go through security scrutiny.

The Chinese government has also taken ownership stakes in the domestic entities of social media giants ByteDance and Weibo, we have recently reported citing corporate filings.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘China steps up tech scrutiny with rules over unfair competition, critical data‘ article. Automatic translation from English to a growing list of languages via Google AI Cloud Translation. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Brenda Goh in Shanghai, Yingzhi Yang in Beijing. Editing by Lincoln Feast.

Related Article:
Tencent vows fresh gaming curbs after 'spiritual opium' attack zaps $60 billion

You can stay on top of all the latest developments across the platform economy, find solutions to your key challenges and gain access to our problem-solving toolkit and proprietary databases by becoming a member of our growing community. For a limited time, our subscription plans start from just $16 per month. What are you waiting for?

Share this Article