November 29, 2023

China just completed its draft of new rules to regulate how companies use algorithms, which will take effect on March 1.

This new law makes it possible for the Chinese government to investigate and change the algorithms of Big Tech companies. The regulation will target how companies/algorithms recommend things to consumers, but not every single algorithm. The rules are broad, and are likely to include news, products, relationships, services, recommendations, etc., it doesn’t seem to include algorithms that power certain technology or the core services of every tech company.

The intent is to limit the negative effects caused by, among other things, social media and disinformation. The text of the regulation contains some provisions that none in western countries could argue are not legitimate concerns. For instance, article 18 of the regulation says, per an unofficial translation, “Algorithm recommendation service providers shall not push information to minors that may cause minors to imitate unsafe behaviors and violate social morality, induce minors’ bad hobbies, etc., which may affect the physical and mental health of minors, and shall not use algorithm recommendation services to induce minors to addict to the Internet.”

The regulation also wants to limit the dissemination of fake news. Article 13 establishes, “If an algorithm recommendation service provider provides Internet news and information services, […] shall not generate synthetic false news…

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