[TAIPEI]One thing came to light during a recent campaign against Chinese tech companies. Jack Ma’s business is not the only thing regulated.
What started as a government crackdown on anti-competitive behavior against China’s internet giants is a larger effort to eliminate the functioning of the rapidly growing and until recently bohemian tech sector. Became.
It has been less than a week since Chinese regulators accused tech companies of alleged violations, ranging from inconsistent pricing and invasion of user privacy to harsh working conditions. In May, Chinese cyber regulators accused 105 apps, including short videos and recruiting apps, of illegally collecting and using personal data. If you do not resolve the issue within 3 weeks, you risk taking legal action.
The guideline was released days after 117 more apps were asked to troubleshoot user data issues. Regulators are also facing ridesharing services for possible driver abuse, while internet companies are under pressure to reform data and lending practices. Authorities have also criticized delivery platforms, which they see as fraudulent pricing strategies.
For tech companies, being called in to meet with regulators usually gives tech companies the opportunity to resolve issues instead of opening a public inquiry, according to people familiar with the investigation. Inform citizens and investors. This has prompted some tech companies to take their turn and strain investigators, according to people familiar with the matter.
China’s goal is “to encourage companies to comply with regulatory requirements without formal intervention,” said Angela Chan, associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, titled “China’s Antitrust Exceptionalism.” Wrote the book.
China’s mobile app regulations have previously focused on cracking down on controversial and inappropriate content. We continue to crack down on this type of social media content. Xiaohongshu, a popular social media and e-commerce app, is the latest to be investigated by Internet regulators after posting a message on Weibo like Twitter on the anniversary of the incident in Tiananmen Square last week. 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square and closure of his account, the Wall Street Journal reported. On the other hand, the latest regulations cover a wider range of violations, many of which have long been considered the norm in booming and under-supervised industries.
China is one of the countries with the shortest history of antitrust regulation in the world’s major economies and has historically used antitrust laws to limit the impact of foreign companies in the market. .. Domestic Internet companies have been largely overlooked as China seeks to develop its own technology industry.
That started to change late last year, when financial technology giant Ant Group’s initial public offering was canceled days after its majority shareholder, Mr. Ma, gave a speech that delivered furious government leaders. In December, China opened an investigation.
Alibaba Holding Group Co., Ltd.
, Mr. Ma also co-founded.
In April, regulators impose a record $ 2.8 billion. The charges have plagued China’s e-commerce industry for years, prompting complaints and public proceedings, but with little solid evidence.
China’s largest regulator begins antitrust investigation to food delivery giant
With the same tactics. Meituan said he would cooperate with the investigation and that his activities would continue to function normally.
“The government wants to send a very clear message to all these tech conglomerates that the government is responsible,” said Mark Natkin, managing director of Beijing-based industrial research firm Marbridge Consulting. Mentionned. “Otherwise, no concept is ultimately acceptable. “
The warning, with the exception of Ant, has yet to necessitate a complete overhaul of the company. For some companies, appeasing Chinese authorities means tweaking certain features of the app, while others rely on collecting and sharing data for a large chunk of their profits. According to employees at five app companies targeted by regulators last month, it could be more affected.
Some employees say they are becoming more cautious about compliance and what can be considered a regulatory violation. ByteDance Ltd., which owns the short video app “Douyin” targeted for collecting inappropriate data, hires legal and compliance experts to check the terms of service and various app features to check for rule violations. Employees said they were in charge of the review. ByteDance declined to comment.
Local agencies are also more involved in cracking down on tech platforms, Zhang said.
The Shanghai Market Regulatory Authority recently imposed a yuan fine on Alibaba-owned shipping app Ele.me for violating China’s price and food safety laws, approximately $ 78,000. Alibaba did not respond to requests for comment.
Shanghai Consumer Protection Commission said it interviewed Meituan and an e-commerce startup
Pin duo Co., Ltd.
In May, it is linked to issues such as misleading online claims, product quality, and nondelivery. Meituan and Pinduoduo did not respond to requests for comment.
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Chinese regulators are calling on the public to watch the behavior of tech companies. Regulators have announced that many of the recent warnings are based on user complaints.
“These complaints have been around for a long time and have inevitably led to actions to protect consumers and small businesses,” said Allen & Aubrey, partner and head of antitrust practices in Greater China. said François Léonard. “Of course, what’s very impressive is that everything is happening at the same time.
Last month, eight government agencies, including China’s Ministry of Transport and Public Security, summoned eight transport companies, including Didi and Meituan, one of the main passengers.
China cracks down on tech companies
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Didi did not respond to requests for comment. The company details the pricing mechanism.
Posted in May and thanked the audience for its director and reviews.
Tech companies have responded to criticism by promising themselves to be good corporate citizens.
In his earnings announcement on May 28, Meituan CEO Wang Xing said the company has set up a team to cooperate with regulators’ investigations and continue to address social responsibility. King donated shares worth HK $ 17.3 billion, an amount equivalent to $ 2.3 billion was submitted to his private foundation on Thursday. The donation will fund projects related to education and scientific research, Meituan said.
Tencent Holdings Co., Ltd.
Ma Huateng, CEO, said the company will get $ 7.7 billion to fund projects such as public welfare, rural revitalization and carbon neutrality. Gaming and social media giants have been singled out by regulators this year on issues such as financial services risk and the lack of proper reporting on past acquisitions.
“If we leverage our technology and products to deliver greater social benefits, we believe that overall we will be better accepted by our users, customers, governments and employees,” said Martin, president of Tencent. Lau spoke of profits. Called last month.
– Keith Zhai and Raffaele Huang contributed to this article.
Write to Stéphanie Yang [email protected]
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