An extraordinary event took place in China – local IT giants, from Tencent Holdings, which supports WeChat, to ByteDance, which owns TikTok, for the first time provided the authorities with information about the algorithms on which their systems work. Experts do not rule out that such measures are theoretically capable of compromising closely guarded corporate secrets.
On Friday, the local regulator published a list of 30 algorithms that companies such as Alibaba Group Holding and Meituan use to collect user data. Make personalized recommendations and manage content. Only brief descriptions of the algorithms are available to the public, but authorities have received much more detailed information.
Algorithms that rank TikTok videos, WeChat posts, or Instagram posts are often seen as the “secret ingredient” that is critical to capturing user attention and driving business growth. However, Chinese companies have no choice – according to Bloombergin March in China, in response to complaints about data abuse, they passed a law requiring Internet companies to disclose information about such tools.
Beijing now has details on TikTok and WeChat’s algorithms
The mechanisms that determine the principles of the industry are in the strictest secrecy. And they often become the subject of political controversy and speculation around the world. In China, the tech giants have failed to protect their secrets – unlike, for example, in the United States. Where Meta and Alphabet reserved the right not to disclose such information, citing trade secrets.
The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has so far only required basic information. But it can request additional information if companies are abusive. In particular the publication of the list. It means that the interaction process between the authorities and the tech giants is going quite smoothly so far.
If earlier IT companies were expanding almost uncontrollably in the country. Then, in recent years, the authorities began to tighten the policy of interaction with businesses. In particular, the Personal Information Protection Act and the Data Security Act were passed last year. Tightening the rules for processing user information.