The relationship between China and its technology companies is complex; However, large corporations, including Tencent and ByteDance (owners of League of Legends and TikTok, respectively), took an unprecedented step by sharing details of their algorithms with the government of their country to curb scrutiny of the companies, something that could compromise your corporate secrets.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the Cyberspace Administration of China released a list of 30 tech companies over the weekend, highlighting how some general aspects of their algorithms work. The companies did not share the actual code of their products, but it was not possible to determine the extent to which they revealed their secrets.
For example, the e-commerce giant, Alibaba, provided information on how they collect data from their users, personalize recommendations and offer them content.
In the case of ByteDance, the information to which the government had access was also general, since it communicated the way in which its algorithm distinguishes the tastes of users to recommend content in its applications, which include the Chinese brother of TikTok, Douyin.
Although there have been controversies over reports that TikTok allowed its employees in China access to information from American users, in this case it did not deliver data from its algorithm to the government, because it does not operate in this territory and, therefore, , you are not forced.
Meituan, another big e-commerce and delivery company, said its algorithms allow them to fill food orders more efficiently.
Although China’s internet watchdog has so far required basic information from companies, analysts say they may seek more details to investigate potential data breaches.
Why is this information so important to China?
The outlook for technology companies has not been clear in China, due to the strong regulations that it has imposed to curb their growth. Last year, for example, the Personal Information Protection Law and the Data Security Law were introduced, in order to regulate the handling of consumer information.
Also, in March the government enacted a series of regulations with the argument of keeping Internet companies under control, which required them to disclose their algorithmic tools even when it is not public.
The regulations were implemented by different government agencies, such as the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology or the Ministry of Public Security, which determined that companies must also include a self-assessment on their security, if they collect biometric information and what the processes are. to train the algorithms.
These systems are some of the best secrets kept by technology companies, as they are at the center of political and mental health controversies around the world. In the United States, companies such as Meta or Alphabet have successfully argued before the authorities that these are trade secrets.