TAIPEI—The latest salvos in China’s campaign against its tech companies make one thing clear: Jack Ma’s businesses aren’t the only ones under the regulatory microscope.
What started out as a government crackdown on anticompetitive practices among Chinese internet giants has grown into a broader effort to clean up how the country’s fast-growing—and, until recently, freewheeling—tech sector operates.
Not a week seems to go by without Chinese regulators calling out tech companies for alleged offenses ranging from inconsistent pricing to imperiling user privacy to difficult working conditions. In May, China’s cyber regulator accused 105 apps, including short-video and job-recruitment apps, of illegally collecting and using personal data. It ordered the companies to fix their problems within three weeks or risk legal action.
The directives came days after another 117 apps were told to fix user-data problems. Regulators have also met with ride-hailing services for potential mistreatment of drivers, while internet firms have been ordered to reform their data and lending practices. Authorities have also criticized delivery platforms over what they view as deceptive pricing tactics.
For tech companies, being summoned to meet with regulators signals to the public and investors that authorities are giving the firms a chance to fix their problems instead of launching official investigations, say people familiar with the probes. That has made some tech companies eager for their own turn in the hot seat, the people said, which has put a strain on investigative manpower.