China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released new regulations governing competitive practices in the Internet space to promote healthy industry growth and safeguard the rights of both companies and online users.
In an article Sunday, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the MIIT issued the regulations to curb poor business practices in one of China's less regulated industries which is dominated by non-state-owned companies that would accuse competitors of foul play in order to gain the upper hand in the online arena. The report cited the public feuding between Chinese Web companies, Tencent and Qihoo 360, over alleged unfair practices in late-2010 as one such example.
The MIIT stated the rules would prevent companies from infringing on the "legal rights and interests" of other online service providers, such as by "maliciously" interfering with services from other companies on a user's device. It would also bar operators from restricting its services to a user without a legitimate reason, changing a user's Internet browser setting without consent or tricking a user into downloading software, the report stated.
"Competition in Internet information services is getting more intense each day and illegal incidents are gradually rising," Li Guobin, an inspector in the MIIT's politics and law section, said in a statement on the ministry's Web site.
On the introduction of these rules, which would come into effect on Mar. 15 this year, Qihoo Chief Executive Zhou Hongyi told WSJ that "there will be better protection for Qihoo 360's customers". Tencent did not comment, the report noted.