Adina-Laura Achim
Aug 18, 2021

Does Beijing’s war on big tech help or harness China’s internet?

Beijing heightened its war on tech titans, improper data use, and unfair competition on Tuesday, but is it a good move in the long run?

(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

On Tuesday, through a set of draft regulations issued by the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), Beijing exacerbated its war on tech titans, unfair competition, and the misuse of user data.

Internet operators “must not implement or assist in the implementation of unfair competition on the internet, disrupt the order of market competition, [or] affect fair transactions in the market,” SAMR wrote in a draft, according to Reuters.

The regulators intend to ban methods leading to traffic hijacking and technical means that lead to illegally collecting or using the data of other businesses. The spread of false and misleading information to destroy the reputation of business competitors is also banned. At the same time, SAMR has declared war on incentives like fake reviews, coupons, or “red envelopes,” all of which are used to drive positive customer ratings.

At first sight, these measures seem legitimate, offering additional protection against misleading advertising and fraudulent or deceptive practices. Moreover, in an information-driven economy where tech companies collect, control, store, and process personal user data, such measures protect consumers from privacy risks. 

The European Union has adopted a similar law. In fact, the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection fined Amazon a record-breaking $887 million for breaching the bloc’s data protection laws in July. Additionally, the European watchdog has ordered Amazon to amend certain undisclosed business practices, according to CNBC.

China critics will interpret Beijing’s concerns over personal data as “exacerbating” economic problems. Some commentators will go as far as to claim that “only the party can censor and manipulate public opinion,” but the reality is that the Western world can learn a lot from China’s approach to big tech. 

Protecting the privacy and data of consumers should become a global priority, but various governments ignore the abuses of tech giants, obliterating privacy and personal rights. 

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