The State Administration for Market Regulation issued a draft classification directory for internet platforms on Sunday soliciting public opinions. The draft document divides internet platforms into six categories, from online sales and daily services to news and information, which will be classified on the basis of their size into super platforms, big platforms and small and medium-sized platforms.
Internet platforms have played a significant role in the growth of China's digital economy, the upgrading of industries and boosting consumption. By the end of 2020, the total market value of China's listed internet platforms had reached 16.8 trillion yuan ($2.62 trillion).
With their growing capability to distribute social resources, how to properly regulate internet platforms so as to propel the healthy development of the digital economy is emerging as a global challenge. The directory aims to provide a solution, but most platform enterprises involve multiple businesses in a complicated business environment, throwing a challenge to the market regulatory system. For example, it is not rare for a chatting app, such as WeChat, to allow users to make electronic payments, while electronic payment app Alipay allows its users to add new contacts to their contact list.
The directory will regulate this by clearly defining the businesses the individual internet platforms are involved in. That will make it easier to curb the monopoly some internet platforms have while helping prevent capital from unlimited expansion.
In particular, the super platforms will be asked to make sure their services can be linked with other platforms and no one is blocked from using their platforms.
The directory also says internet platforms must protect the rights and privacy of users and ensure personal data are not leaked. Intellectual property rights protection, labor rights protection and environmental protection have also been emphasized. Hopefully, the new directory will regulate the internet platforms in a better, more efficient way and help the digital economy prosper further.