Chinese regulators issued guidelines on algorithms

September 29, 2021 5:46 pm

Wednesday, Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the central internet regulator, issued the final guidelines on managing content algorithms after soliciting public feedback.

The document was jointly released by 9 government bodies, including CAC, the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Science and Technology, Ministry of Public Security, etc.


The document acknowledges algorithms' significance in accelerating the dissemination of information, boosting digital economy, and promoting social development. However, it pointed out that inappropriate deployment of algorithms will disturb the order in communications, businesses, and even the social stability.

Underpinned by the guidelines, a 3-year-plan campaign, aims to establish a comprehensive control system. In detail, measures range from building a risk monitoring system, to strengthening ethical reviews of science and technology.

In the draft version of the guidelines, CAC proposed forbidding companies from "encouraging addiction or high consumption" and that users should be given the option to easily turn off algorithm services. The final version didn't state its purposes in such details.


Algorithms developed by tech companies worldwide are becoming so influential that they profile users with tags based on behavioral pattern. They are often used to target new and existing customers and have aroused many privacy and security concerns.

China is becoming aggressive on regulating algorithms. Last month, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed the Personal Information Protection Law, mandating similar measures on the matter. The law will come into effect on November 1

The guidelines issued by CAC is believed to target ByteDance, Alibaba Group, Tencent and Didi, and other companies whose services are built on top of recommendation algorithms.