China creates new rules to control algorithm recommendation services
geralt / Pixabay
China creates new rules to control algorithm recommendation services

Chinese authorities Tuesday published the Internet Information Service Algorithm Recommendation Management Regulations to regulate algorithmic recommendation activities used by apps and other internet services. The rules are expected to safeguard national security and social public interests, protect the legitimate rights and interests of citizens and promote the healthy development of internet information services.

The regulations require providers of algorithm recommendation services to uphold users’ rights, including the right to know the algorithm, which requires providers to publicise basic principles, purposes and operating mechanisms of the algorithms. The regulations also recommend that users should have the right to choose options that are not specific to their personal characteristics and to turn off the algorithm’s recommendation service.

In order to protect consumers, these Chinese regulations state that algorithms cannot be used to implement differential treatment based on consumer preferences and transaction habits. There are also special protections for the safety of minors and the elderly.

However, the rules threaten to further tighten free speech online by providing that service providers must adhere to the mainstream value orientation and that algorithm recommendation services cannot be used to engage in illegal activities or spread illegal information. Algorithms also cannot be used “to influence online public opinion, evade supervision and management, and monopolize and unfair competition.”

The rules have been jointly issued by the State Internet Information Office, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Public Security and the State Administration for Market Regulation. They will come into force on March 1, 2022. A draft version of the rules was circulated in August last year for public consultation.