China to set up governance rules for algorithms
Published: Sep 29, 2021 10:58 PM
cyber attack Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced a joint plan with eight other departments on Wednesday to set up governance rules and a system for algorithms in the next three years, in order to avoid the risk of abuses such as interference in public opinion, attacks on business rivals and harm to netizens' rights and interests. 

"A multi-dimensional regulatory system will be established to monitor algorithm safety risks, archival administration and illegal behavior," said a statement published on the CAC's website. 

Meanwhile, algorithm innovation will be encouraged, according to the CAC. "The autonomous and controllable capability of algorithms and intellectual property protection should be promoted," it said.

The latest move came after the CAC solicited public opinion on a new draft of rules for algorithm management in late August, which required algorithm service providers not to use algorithms to block information, manipulate ranking lists or search results, control searches or selection, forge likes and comments, or hijack online traffic.

Algorithms are mostly based on artificial intelligence and are used by enterprises to promote their products and services. For instance, e-commence apps recommend different products to individual users based on their preferences, Liu Dingding, a veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, is famous for its personalized recommendation algorithm. 

Liu said that the notice aims to regulate the use of algorithms and protect the legal rights of consumers and online users, as some businesses and online platforms have used algorithms inappropriately to attract traffic or promote certain products and services. Consumers sometimes pay two different prices for a product on the same shopping platform, which harms their interests and represents unfair competition. 

He also emphasized that the recent policies related to the development of the internet industry showed an improvement from the previous situation in which policymaking lagged behind amid the rapid growth of the sector.