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“The Chinese authorities want to regulate the recommendation algorithms, which are the daily life of the Internet”


Grandstand. If you thought the European Union was the champion of regulation, with the Digital Service Act (DSA) and the Digital Market Act (DMA), not to mention the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), think again.

China has just exceeded it with a text put up for consultation in the summer of 2021 and in application from 1er March. It went unnoticed in Europe, which does not shine with the presence of its digital champions, but not in the United States. This text will put an end to the last ambitions of “Big Tech” in China.

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In a few pages and thirty articles (“ Provisions on the Administration of Algorithm – Recommendations for Internet Information Services » – unofficial translation on ChinaLawTranslate), it is a text that would be accompanied by thousands of pages and dialogues in Europe, as every time it regulates.

Recommendations “

The Chinese authorities want to regulate the recommendation algorithms, which are the daily life of the Internet when we order products or consume content there, when we are looking for a soul mate, when we carry out research or drinks from the news feed of social networks (in other words, when we consume the Internet): these algorithms have made the success of Amazon, Google, Netflix, Facebook and Tinder.

This text, which contains only “recommendations”, requires their Chinese equivalents to explain the rules that served as the basis for the algorithms to users. The latter can ask for their deactivation or demand that their profile not be taken into account (a very cosmetic freedom compared to the social profiling with points of all by the State and the party). All illegal but also “negative” content must be stopped because it must transmit positive energy (sic).

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Users must understand why this content is presented to them, opt out if necessary, why the results are presented in this order, etc. In short, knowing if they are being manipulated (probably because it is the Party’s monopoly). A trace of the operation of these algorithms must also be kept for six months for inspection purposes by the various state services (but no allusion to a complaint from a citizen to do so).

The formulation of the Chinese authorities serves as a foil: algorithms cannot endanger national security, nor socialist values, nor disturb the economic or social order. They cannot transmit prohibited information, go against ethics and morals, that the text translated by “neither addiction nor compulsive spending”.

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