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

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

A woman carrying her purchases walks by a fashion boutique outlet having the Singles' Day promotion sales in Beijing, Nov 11, 2020. (Photo: AP/Andy Wong)

SHANGHAI: 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 (Oct 27), said it held a meeting on Oct 25 with representatives from e-commerce companies Alibaba Group, JD.com, Meituan and Pinduoduo.

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 cryptocurrency.

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

Source: Reuters/ng

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