Beijing forces digital giants to reveal their algorithms

Beijing forces digital giants to reveal their algorithms

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Chinese digital giants, including Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance, have handed over details of their algorithms to authorities, an unprecedented move amid Beijing's takeover of the industry, the report said. regulator. 

At the heart of the digital economy, algorithms serve as the brains of many applications and services on the internet and are generally a well-kept secret of the digital giants. 

These tools make it possible to analyze the amounts of information collected on a user and to make automatic recommendations based on their habits or preferences.

Concerned about the opacity of the digital giants vis-à-vis these practices, the authorities seek to further regulate the algorithms.

Under a March regulation, companies are required to check with the regulator on their algorithms' compliance and provide technical details.

On Friday, China's Cyberspace Administration released for the first time a list describing how tech giants use algorithms. 

E-commerce champion Alibaba, for example, recommends new products based on browsing and search history of its users.

The short-video app Douyin (Chinese version of TikTok) makes suggestions based on how long its users have spent on previous content. 

“At this stage, the authorities do have not explicitly asked companies to change their algorithms,” Angela Zhang, a Chinese law specialist at the University of Hong Kong, told AFP.

“Regulators are more at the stage of collecting of information,” notes Ms. Zhang.

The Chinese authorities have been particularly intransigent against the tech sector for almost two years, for practices hitherto tolerated and widespread.

Several behemoths in the sector have thus been singled out in terms of personal data, competition and user rights.

Last month, Didi, China's leader in reservations with driver ( VTC) was fined some 1.2 billion euros for infringements s regarding personal data.