Government announces three-year plan to tame China’s algorithms

China’s most powerful internet regulator says the country’s companies and government organizations have three years to set up a governance system for the algorithms that power many of the internet services that consumers use daily.

Beijing has taken another step to regulating algorithms, the codes that drive artificial intelligence.

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), which under Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 has become the country’s most powerful regulator, watchdog, and censor of the internet, has announced (in Chinese) the government’s intention to create a comprehensive regulatory system for algorithms within the next three years.

The announcement comes a month after the CAC released a set of draft guidelines (in Chinese) for internet companies’ use of algorithms.

  • The announcement establishes the three-year timeline for CAC itself and all other government organizations and companies to make relevant rules and get their houses in order.
  • CAC also confirmed the national security and ideological components of the campaign: Like people, algorithms must be censored, loyal to the party-state, and made to follow Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.
  • The announcement specifically concerns “internet information service algorithms” (互联网信息服务算法) and seems to be targeted at consumer-facing internet companies.

The new announcement is light on details, but some of the intentions were explained in the previously released draft rules. They include requirements for internet companies to:

  • Provide users with tools to manage the data algorithms use to profile them (such as search and purchase histories);
  • Stop using algorithms to push sales to minors and cause internet addiction;
  • Stop using algorithms to dictate brutal work conditions for delivery drivers and other gig workers.

Author: Jeremy Goldkorn, SupChina

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