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CGTN:(肖慧琳)China needs to strengthen its anti-data monopoly measures

发布时间: 2021年01月19日 浏览次数: 编辑: 国际发展合作学院

(Article Source: China Global Television Network (CGTN)   Author: XIAO HUILIN)

 

Editor's note: Xiao Huilin is the vice dean of the School of International Development and Cooperation at the University of International Business and Economics and deputy secretary-general of the China Association of International Trade in the Ministry of Commerce. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.


Recently, an article entitled "I was Played for a Sucker by Meituan Membership"  was widely shared on China's social media. In it, a user of Meituan, one of the most popular food delivery apps in China shared his experience of buying a Meituan monthly membership that promised to send him "red envelopes" (which equals price reductions). After he became a member however, he was extremely frustrated to find out that Meituan wasn't genuine about their "price reductions" at all – it increased members' delivery fees.

This "Big-Data Price Discrimination" incident was one of the most trending topics on Weibo and attracted widespread attention. With the development of the digital economy, cases involving "Big-Data Price Discrimination" have occurred frequently. There is no doubt that internet technology has improved the quality of people's life. But with capital being gradually concentrated in the hands of a few internet companies, the issue of monopoly must be tackled. That's why China's Central Economic Work Conference this year stated that it is necessary to "resolutely oppose monopoly and unfair competition behavior."

The Chinese word for "monopoly" originated from Mencius, which describes the monopolist manipulating the entire market from an advantageous position to maximize profits. The behavior of manipulating the market and pursuing profit maximization has a new manifestation in the era of digital economy, and that is, data monopoly.

What is the negative impact of data monopoly?

The following exposes the negative effects of data monopoly from three perspectives: the state, society and individuals.

For a country, data resources are national strategic resources. The collection, processing and use of data resources are related to a state's economic operation mechanism, social production and its people's living standards. The exclusivity of data resources can affect a state's factor market allocation, hindering the construction of a unified and open market system and the high-quality development of its digital economy industry.

The phenomenon of "Data Island" created by data monopolies in different industries can only accelerate the speed of data accumulation, but cannot improve data efficiency at the national level, or realize data innovation, and can even bring certain risks and hidden dangers.

For example, in the construction of credit loans and credit reporting systems, it may happen that government platforms are open to data oligarchs, but the data oligarchs refuse to share requests from government departments, leaving their business activities in an opaque black box.

For the society's point of view, the misuse and monopoly of data by platform companies with dominant market positions, and even the use of scale advantages and data hegemony to try to directly "define rules," to a certain extent, have led to the unfair competition behavior existing in industries such as finance and the internet.


 

The chaotic order and deteriorating competitive environment has exacerbated the Matthew effect – that is, large companies are getting bigger and bigger, controlling more personal data of consumers, and after maintaining high-cost and high-tech storage data, they either passively or actively occupy the survival and development space of other small- and medium-sized enterprises, restrain the formation of scale economy and form market barriers.

The impact of data monopoly on individuals is mainly in two aspects. First of all, data monopoly makes it more difficult to protect consumers. The most well-known case is "Big-Data Price Discrimination" which I mentioned in the beginning. Secondly, the personal privacy leakage caused by data monopoly cannot be ignored. People are currently accustomed to using mobile phones to pay. If data oligarchs and other illegal organizations collect a large number of biometric codes, and also have an important breakthrough in password analysis and hardware technology, people's property security will be greatly threatened.

So what can we do to tackle 'data monopoly'?

When the market fails, the government needs to take action. The "visible hands" of the government can take the following measures.

First, to strengthen legislation. Currently, data monopolies by platform service providers are rampant, the incomplete legislation can be an important contributing factor. To legislate anti-data monopoly, two specific strategies can be considered: First, data rights confirmation. We need to confirm data rights through legislation, establish data source code by using blockchain technology, clearly define data ownership and usage rights to ensure that the legitimate interests of data property owners are not infringed or illegally used, and prevent users' data from being used to construct the algorithmic collusion and algorithmic discrimination model. In addition, we need to clarify the responsibility between government and enterprises in government's outsourcing projects, so as to avoid political rent-seeking and government-enterprises collusion, which can easily lead to data monopoly.

Second, to establish a specialized data monopoly supervision platform. Based on the Anti-Monopoly Law and the Anti-Monopoly Guidelines, the platform can strengthen the supervision of the entire data-using process, optimize the reward and punishment mechanism, and strictly investigate platform companies' behaviors which do harm to consumers' interests, thus maintaining a stable, safe, fair and just market competition environment.

Third, companies should attach great importance to anti-monopoly compliance. It is necessary for intelligent platform companies to recognize the possible harm of data monopoly, enhance their sense of social responsibility and mission, abide by anti-monopoly laws and regulations to maintain fair market competition. Only when laws are complete, supervision is in place, and enterprises are self-disciplined, can the anti-data monopoly be effectively realized.

 

加强反数据垄断,规范数据市场

近日,一篇名为《我被美团会员割了韭菜》的文章被广泛转载,美团的“大数据杀熟”事件被顶上微博热搜榜,引起广泛关注。“大数据杀熟”问题随着数字经济的发展,不断出现在人们的视野中,究其本质,这是一种垄断带来的价格歧视现象。毫无疑问,互联网技术提高了人们的生活质量,但随着互联网企业资本越来越集中,垄断问题变得不容忽视,前不久召开的中央经济工作会议上指明要“坚决反对垄断和不正当竞争行为”。

垄断一词最早出自《孟子》,描述了垄断者站在高处操纵整个市场来追求利润的最大化。这种操纵市场、追求利润最大化的行为在数字经济时代有了新的表现形式,即数据垄断。

一、 数据垄断的负面影响

下面将从国家、社会、个人三个角度来揭露数据垄断带来的负面影响。

对国家来说,数据资源属于国家战略资源,数据资源的收集、处理和使用关系着我国的经济运行机制、社会生产生活和人民生活水平。对数据资源的排他性独占影响了我国的要素市场化配置,阻碍了统一开放的市场体系建设和数字经济产业高质量发展。不同行业的数据垄断产生的“数据孤岛”现象只能加快数据积累的速度,而无法提升国家层面的数据效率,实现数据创新,甚至带来一定的风险和隐患。例如,在信用贷款和征信体系的建设中,可能出现政府平台向数据寡头开放,但数据寡头拒绝来自政府部门的共享要求,使其商业活动处于不透明的黑箱中的情形。

对社会来说,具有市场支配地位的平台企业对数据的滥用和独占,甚至是利用规模优势和数据霸权来试图直接“定义规则”的不正当竞争行为,一定程度上导致了金融、互联网等行业的秩序混乱、竞争环境恶化,加剧了马太效应,即大企业越来越大,控制更多消费者的个人数据,在以高成本、高技术进行储备数据维护后,被动或主动地挤占了其他中小企业的生存发展空间,抑制其规模经济的形成,形成市场壁垒和竞争优势。

对个人来说,数据垄断对个人的影响主要有两方面,一是数据垄断使得对消费者的保护愈发困难,二是数据垄断带来的个人隐私泄露也不容忽视。首先,数据垄断使得对消费者的保护愈发困难.最为大众所熟知的就是"大数据杀熟",商家通过数据收集了分析为用户定制了独一无二的画像,通过数据画像,预测消费者的消费行为和预期价格,从而实施差异化定价,如美团外卖对于不同消费者制定不同的价格。在线下购物时代,商家与消费者之间的关系为单纯的甲乙两方,消费者保护的介入难度很低,而如今数据垄断的情况下,涉及到的合约方众多,这也使得消费者保护的介入难度提高。其次,数据垄断带来的个人隐私泄露也不容忽视,当前人们习惯使用手机支付,如果数据寡头或其他非法去机构收集到了大量的生物特征码,同时又在密码解析技术与硬件技术上有了重要突破,人们的财产安全将会受到巨大威胁。

二、 数据垄断的产生原因

数字经济发展的过程中,哪些因素助长了数据垄断?以下从经济市场环境,政府管控,企业,技术等角度来分析数据垄断的产生原因。

1垄断意味着排他性的独占,随着人类进入信息化时代,人类的各种活动都在时间和空间上凝聚得更加紧密。现在的人类社会已经不再是传统"六度空间",甚至不再是" Pc+web"的三四度空间。在这种情况下,掌握了数据,就掌握了经济发展的关键资源,特别容易出现行业第一名碾压其他企业的情况,这就迫使企业不得不在细分市场上力争第一。

(2)数据市场混乱,数据垄断程度的加大,一定程度与政府监管力度有关,而缺乏有关数据规范的法律法规则会降低政府对数据市场的监管效力。近年来,数字经济建设力度越来越大,需要积极采取对应措施保证数字经济建设的稳定与繁荣,然而大数据资源的“4V”特性(数据量极大、种类繁多、生成速度快和价值密度低)一定程度加大了政府监管难度,同时也一定程度影响数据资源市场无序发展,急需政府有效利用这只“有形的手”对数据市场进行调控,将数据市场从不健康低效状态转变为高质量高速发展局面。

3)企业自身片面追求经济利润,导致整体市场秩序混乱。数据资源对于企业提升竞争优势等方面有着重要影响作用,比如通过自身营销数据了解客户信息,从而为顾客提供“个性化服务”。企业了解消费者相关数据后,在市场交易中便可获得更多信息优势,进而让企业更具体地知晓消费者偏好,则为企业的“价格歧视”提供了温床,从而让消费者剩余减少,使得消费者利益受损。因此,片面追求企业利润的商家,便会想方设法地获取更多的有利数据,从而让企业自身在市场竞争中具备一定的支配能力,并一定程度会助长其数据垄断地位。

(4)在大数据时代,随着大数据等相关技术发展,使得平台企业不断挖掘数据背后的商业价值的能力也进一步提升,因而大数据技术发展会一定程度刺激企业想获取更多商业数据,以挖掘更深的数据商业价值,以取得更大的竞争优势。

    三、政府规范数据市场

       当市场失灵时,需要政府加以管控,政府这双“看得见的手”可以采取以下措施。

第一,政府加强立法。当前,智能平台服务商数据垄断行为泛滥,法律漏洞重要因素。立法反数据垄断考虑两方面具体策略:一是数据确权通过立法进行数据确权,利用区块链技术建立数据源代码将数据所有权使用权进行明确的产权界定,从而保证产权所有者的合法利益不被侵犯与非法使用,避免用户数据被用于建构算法共谋与算法歧视模型。此外立法明确政府服务外包项目中的政企责任划分与责任追究制,避免政治寻租、官商合谋而导致数据垄断

政府建立专门化的数据垄断监督平台。监管平台《反垄断法》及《反垄断指南》为依据加强对智能平台服务商数据来源、使用及去向等全流程的监督管理,优化奖惩机制,严平台型企业滥用市场支配地位进行大数据杀熟损害消费者利益的行为,维护稳定、安全、公平、公正的市场竞争环境。

第三,企业重视反垄断合规。智能服务企业要认清数据垄断可能带来的危害,增强社会责任感与使命,严格遵守反垄断法律法规,维护市场公平竞争。只有法律完善、监管到位、企业自律,才能有效实现反数据垄断

 

Link to original text:  https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-12-26/China-needs-to-strengthen-its-anti-data-monopoly-measures-WxGkig7wwU/index.html

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