China Big Tech faces tougher penalties for unfair pricing under revised antitrust law
- The revised draft emphasises new rules for the digital economy, including a ban on using data, algorithms, technology and platform rules to facilitate unfair competition
- Chinese regulators have been cracking down on such behaviour since late 2020 as part of Beijing’s efforts to curb the growing power of China Big Tech
China’s antitrust watchdog has proposed tougher curbs and penalties on unfair practices adopted by Big Tech companies, including algorithm price discrimination and “picking one from two”, with a revised law intended to further discipline the country’s powerful tech sector.
On Tuesday, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR), China’s antitrust regulator, released a draft revision of the existing anti-unfair competition law, with the new draft covering more anticompetitive behaviours common among China’s internet giants. It will be open for public opinion through December 22.
The revised draft, which is 15 articles and 3,000 Chinese characters longer than the current law, emphasises new rules for the digital economy, including a ban on using data, algorithms, technology and platform rules to facilitate unfair competition.
Penalties were raised to a maximum of 5 per cent of a company’s total sales for the previous year, and individuals responsible for violations are liable for a fine of up to 1 million yuan (US$140,000).
It is the third time the anti-unfair competition law has been revised since it took effect in 2013. Previous amendments were made in 2017 and 2019, while work on the current draft began in December last year, according to the SAMR.
The new draft also stipulated that platforms cannot block products and services lawfully provided by other companies without justifiable reasons.
While the problematic practices of internet companies have been included in the anti-unfair competition law for the first time, Chinese regulators have been cracking down on such behaviour since late 2020 as part of Beijing’s efforts to curb the growing power of Big Tech.