The China Consumers Association (CCA) expressed its dissatisfaction with the practices of Chinese companies on the Internet a few days ago. According to the association, companies that sell their products on the Internet “bully” their customers by using systems that scan consumers’ personal data in order to offer them variable prices depending on their profile.
Two practices are criticized against the giants of the web
The consumer association believes that Chinese companies have violated the rights of their customers. According to the CCA, misuse of their personal information can encourage them to purchase by offering them promotions based on their profile. The association does not name a company, but it is evidence that Beijing is trying to reverse the trend and that laissez-faire, which used to be the rule in the internet space, is no longer relevant.
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Two main issues are addressed by the China Consumers Association. The first, therefore, is the use of artificial intelligence that makes it possible to scan consumers’ personal data in order to offer them a price according to their profile. The second is the use of personalized and targeted recommendations obtained by monitoring user consumption habits and browsing history. The CCA believes that consumers may not realize that the content they are viewing is tailored for them.
These practices are not new and exist all over the world. Targeted advertising is possible thanks to the data collected on the web. This model common to the web giants seems to be clearly being questioned by Beijing. The authorities are trying to strengthen the privacy and data protection of users. China’s new personal data protection bill mentions that users should have the right to reject “automated decisions” based on their personal data.
The China Consumers Association is supported by Beijing
This statement by the China Consumers Association comes at a special time. For a few weeks now, the Chinese government decided to regulate the web giants. Beijing has even already imposed initial fines on Alibaba and Tencent. Symbolic sanctions to warn the other giants of the internet and make them realize that it is time to change their monopoly practices.
So can there be a connection between the government’s desire to regulate the tech giants and this position of the China Consumers Association? It seems so. According to the South China Morning Post, the China Consumers Association is a government-sponsored association. Beijing attacks from all sides to bend the web giants.
The web giants are warned: The Chinese government is preparing for increased surveillance. Fines are distributed and investigations are initiated. While Jack Ma has been missing for several months, Alibaba is precisely the subject of an antitrust investigation.