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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Chinese Internet Titans Give Government Algorithm Data

Just like China, Meta and Alphabet in the US have successfully maintained their trade secrets

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

CHINA: The use of algorithms to determine what users see and how they view it is essential to the development of social media platforms. Despite pleas for increased disclosure, Meta and Alphabet in the US have successfully maintained their trade secrets.

In an attempt to stop data abuse, it said in a statement that its algorithm list will be routinely updated.

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One of the stated algorithms comes from the Alibaba-owned e-commerce platform Taobao.

The Taobao algorithm “recommends products or services to users through their digital footprint and historical search data,” according to the Mandarin translation of the document.

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According to reports, the ByteDance algorithm for Douyin, China’s equivalent of TikTok, determines user interests based on what users click, comment on, “like,” or “dislike.”

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The data appeared “surface level,” according to Trivium China’s head of tech policy research, Kendra Schaefer.

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She said, “It doesn’t seem like the algorithms themselves have been submitted. Each of these algorithms has a registration number, allowing the CAC to concentrate enforcement activities on a specific algorithm. What is the next step to determine whether an algorithm is up to code?”

However, according to Zhai Wei, executive director of the East China University of Political Science and Law’s Competition Law Research Center, the information was “far more extensive than what was definitely released.”

According to him, divulging those business secrets to the public would be impossible. 

China has the highest population of internet users in the world and is a huge market for smartphones, e-commerce, and gaming. As a result, there are now far more technology companies than ever before.

Beijing fiercely defends the technology that underpins these businesses and forbids its export outside of its borders.

But it wants more control over its technology and data because it is worried about how these platforms can sway Chinese public opinion. It seeks to refocus people’s attention on information that the government deems appropriate for general consumption.

Beijing has encouraged service providers to make sure that their algorithms “actively transmit positive energy” and are not being used to promote excesses, extravagant spending, or exposure to celebrity culture.

Due to concerns about how they use data and curate content, international brands like Google and Facebook have been urged to provide this type of information. However, they have resisted up until this point, claiming that algorithms are trade secrets.

For almost two years, Chinese policymakers have been strengthening their control over the technology industry.

In March, the nation passed new laws governing algorithms, allowing individuals to choose not to participate in the creation of suggestions.

Registration with the CAC was also necessary for algorithms that had “public opinion properties or social mobilisation skills.”

“I’m not aware of any other place in the world where you can go see a list of all the pieces of code that are effectively influencing the decisions that you make, such as what to buy or what content to watch,” Schaefer added.

Also Read: Cambodia’s New Internet Gateway To Expand The Government’s Control Over Internet


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