Beijing forces Chinese tech giants to reveal their algorithms

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Chinese digital giants including Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance have handed 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 hub 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 provide them with automatic suggestions based on your business model or preferences.

In March, China issued rules requiring companies to disclose these tools as concerns about data misuse grew. Under it, companies are required to verify compliance of their algorithms with the regulatory authority and provide technical details.

On Friday, China’s cyberspace administration for the first time released a regulation describing how tech giants use algorithms. For example, the leading e-commerce company, Alibaba, recommends new products based on its users’ browsing and search history.

Additionally, Douyin (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 change their algorithms,” Angela Zhang, a Chinese law specialist at Hong Kong University, told AFP. “Regulators may still be in the information gathering phase,” she added.

Chinese authorities launched a crackdown on the tech sector two years ago for practices that allowed giant companies to achieve rampant growth and the emergence of monopolies.

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