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中国拟打击网络“炒信”行为
Deal to share data with Beijing stirs fears in war on fake online reviews

来源:FT中文网    2016-10-26 06:10



        China’s biggest internet companies have agreed to share data with government authorities in an effort to eliminate fake online reviews for services such as taxi rides and restaurants.
        Alibaba, Tencent, JD.com, 58.com, Didi Chuxing and Baidu have all agreed to support the initiative, which aims to improve consumer trust online in a country where faking sales and reviews is commonplace in ecommerce. The practice, known in Chinese as “brushing”, is used by merchants to gain prominent placement and more sales.
        The National Development and Reform Commission, a key government agency, said yesterday that the agreement to fight “credit manipulation” would be part of a larger project announced last year to create a national “social credit system” aimed at promoting online trustworthiness.
        “This [brushing] industry is becoming bigger and bigger, causing increasing danger to the healthy development of e-commerce business,” said Zhao Chenxin, an NDRC spokesperson.
        Despite the pro-consumer rhetoric, there were worries that tightening rules on online reviews and transactions would help the government create more accurate profiles of Chinese citizens. The NDRC would be compiling a “credit blacklist” as part of a “joint disciplinary scheme,” one official acknowledged.
        The “social credit” plan published last year already has the aim of using algorithms and big data to rate not just citizens’ creditworthiness, but their overall “honesty” and “trustworthiness”.
        “The incentive scheme for integrity and joint disciplinary scheme for dishonesty is an important part of China’s social credit system,” said Zhou Min of the NDRC’s state information centre.
        Privacy advocates fear the system is actually designed for mass surveillance. So far, however, government efforts have been largely theoretical. A draft of the plan said it would “use encouragement” to increase trust online.
        The system depends on China’s largest internet groups sharing user data, although no details of what would be provided to the government have been released. One employee of a large internet company admitted “this is mostly driven by our government relations people and we don’t have any details”.
        Baidu, China’s largest search engine, and Alibaba, the ecommerce group, said they believed the system would help protect consumers against fraud.
        
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