Several Chinese Internet search players have come together under the lead of the Internet Society of China to sign a code of conduct which requires them to self-regulate to protect user rights.
In a statement Thursday, Internet Society of China said Baidu, Qihoo 360, Tencent, Sina and other search companies signed an agreement which aimed to "encourage innovation and create a fair competitive environment".
The code of conduct calls for the members to compete fairly and protect users' privacy and ensure data security. Companies are required to block pornographic and stop online rumors. According to the Internet Society of China, the drafting of the agreement was guided by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology since mid-August.
The move comes amid an escalating battle between China's dominant search player Baidu and antivirus software firm Qihoo 360.
In mid-August, Qihoo set up its own search engine service and managed to capture 10 percent of the country's search market by riding on the popularity of its antivirus software and browser. Initially, Qihoo 360 redirected its search results to Baidu's search results page. The incident escalated when Baidu blocked links from Qihoo 360's search.
A Sohu IT report pointed out the ministry had also stepped in to moderate a battle between Qihoo 360 and Tencent two years ago.