China calls on e-commerce sites to curb spam ahead of Singles’ Day shopping fest


FILE PHOTO: A sign of Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Singles’ Day global shopping festival is seen at a media center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China November 11, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

October 28, 2021

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), a major industry regulator, has called on e-commerce sites to curb text-message marketing ahead of the country’s annual Nov. 11 Singles’ Day shopping festival.

MIIT, in a social media post late on Wednesday, said it held a meeting on Oct. 25 with representatives from e-commerce companies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Inc, Meituan and Pinduoduo Inc.

It said it told the companies that vendors on their platforms often use loopholes to send text-message promotions to registered users without consent, in violation of consumer rights. Unsolicited online content is commonly known as spam.

The regulator said it then called on the companies to “check and correct” text-message marketing activities and themselves refrain from sending text-message promotions without obtaining user consent.

Singles’ Day is China’s equivalent to the United States’ Cyber Monday. In the run up and on the day, e-commerce sites offer limited-time discounts as a promotional activity.

MIIT’s meeting comes amid a year-long regulatory campaign in China, with authorities imposing restrictions and fines in sectors as varied as education and crypto-currency.

In April, authorities fined Alibaba a record $2.8 billion for engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.

(Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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