Consumers ‘targets of technical bullying’ by Chinese tech firms, watchdog warns
The government-backed China Consumers Association (CCA) has accused tech firms in the country of violating consumer rights by misusing data, distorting algorithms and subjecting users to “technical bullying.”
While the CCA did not single out any specific companies in its criticism, it raised concerns over firms that have developed rapidly into large-scale organizations in the consumer sector, particularly those dealing with accommodation, food delivery, online shopping, online gaming, transportation and travel.
The watchdog noted that the collection and handling of data have “aroused widespread concern in society.” Specifically, the CAA accused companies of using algorithms to examine personal data in order to deprive customers of choice and alter the prices of products.
In a statement, the agency declared that “Consumers are being squeezed by data algorithms and becoming the targets of technical bullying.”
“It is hoped that various industry organizations will strengthen leadership and supervision to encourage network operators to apply algorithms in a reasonable and compliant manner, purify the industry atmosphere, promote sound development, and effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of consumers.”
The CAA’s tech industry critique comes after Chinese authorities introduced draft legislation to better regulate the country’s online sector and tackle anti-competitive behavior – a marked change from the country’s previous approach of allowing tech firms to grow relatively unrestricted.
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In December, as part of the new crackdown, Alibaba and two other companies which have a track record of making hundreds of acquisitions each year were fined for failing to ask for regulatory approval for past deals.
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