March 25, 2023
Chinese digital giants including Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance have turned over details of their algorithms to authorities, an unprecedented move as Beijing tightens its grip on the tech sector, the regulator said.

At the heart of the digital economy, the algorithms of Chinese digital companies serve as the core of numerous online applications and services, which are usually well protected. These tools allow you to analyze the amount of information collected about users and give them automatic recommendations based on their activity patterns or preferences.

In March, China issued rules requiring companies to disclose these tools as concerns about data misuse intensified. According to it, companies are required to check with the regulator the compliance of their algorithms and provide technical details.

On Friday, China’s Cyberspace Authority released a ruling for the first time outlining how the tech giants are using algorithms. For example, the leading e-commerce company Alibaba recommends new products based on the browsing history and searches of its users.

In addition, Doyen (the Chinese version of TikTok) offers suggestions based on how much time users spend on past content. “At this point, the authorities have not explicitly asked companies to modify their algorithms,” Angela Chang, a Chinese law specialist at the University of Hong Kong, told AFP. “Regulators may still be at the information gathering stage,” she added.

Two years ago, Chinese authorities launched a crackdown on the tech sector over practices that allowed giant companies to run rampant and create monopolies.

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