Algorithms need to be properly regulated

2021-01-29 12:07:11

JIN DING/CHINA DAILY As information technology progresses, it is becoming increasingly common for people to do almost everything online, such as ordering food, buying daily commodities, and browsing the news. Most smartphone apps today are smart enough to know what we want, recommending commodities or services that might interest us, even pushing things that we have bought in the past, making it convenient for consumers and profitable for the app developers. However, through such activities the apps also violate consumers' privacy by collecting unnecessary information. Reports also show that some apps charge regular consumers more than newer ones. Some apps even ask shop owners to pay for recommending them consumers. The apps do this through data they have stored about consumers, violating the consumers' legitimate rights and disturbing the normal market order. In the future, such activities will only ruin the flourishing digital economy. The key to curbing this lies in regulating the algorithms of apps. Currently apps make their own algorithms for collecting data and making recommendations, but the process is not transparent. There is a need to establish a mechanism to regulate the platforms' algorithms, so that consumers' and shop owners' rights are better protected.Some work is going on in this direction. For example, the draft of the data security management regulation, open for soliciting public opinion, makes it clear that network companies should not illegally collect personal information, and those doing so legally must obtain the person's consent first. More such laws will be legislated in the future. However, laws and rules need the cooperation of enterprises and consumers, to be effective. At a recent conference organized by the China Consumers Association, a consensus was reached that algorithms should be properly regulated to better protect consumers' rights. It is also necessary for enterprises to develop a sense of responsibility and respect the privacy of the consumers they serve. After all, customer is king, and enterprises must serve the king, and not vice versa.