China released new anti-monopoly protocols on Sunday aimed at cracking down on the country’s tech giants, Reuters reports. The guidelines, which finalise drafted legislation originally released in November, are intended to “stop monopolistic behaviours in the platform economy and protect fair competition in the market,” according to China’s State Administration for Market Regulation.
These rules would ban China’s leading tech giants such as Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings from engaging in a bevy of long-time practices in the marketplace. Some of these include forcing merchants to choose among the country’s largest internet providers, inhibiting technological innovation, manipulating the market using data and algorithms, and price fixing, according to Reuters.
Such practices have long gone unchecked given the government’s hands-off approach to the business side of the internet, but have come under increased scrutiny in recent months. To wit, Chinese regulators launched an antitrust probe into Alibaba Group in December over the e-commerce giant’s alleged anti-competition practices.
However, it’s been a bit of an uphill battle so far. In a Q&A released alongside its new protocols, China’s market regulator noted that it was struggling to impose regulations and comprehensive reform.
“The behaviour is more concealed, the use of data, algorithms, platform rules and so on make it more difficult to discover and determine what are monopoly agreements,” it said per Reuters.
But these guidelines certainly seem like a promising first step to address the issue.