Internet Firms In China Partner On Fair Practices

The group's goal is to limit malicious competition among online software and increase self oversight while increasing product openness.
In China, a group of 10 high-profile, Internet enterprises is forming an alliance to self regulate online software after a recent row that saw executives accusing each other of developing software that uninstalls rivals' products without a user's knowledge.

The group's goal is to limit malicious competition and increase self oversight while increasing product openness and customer application understanding. Founding members of the alliance include search leader Baidu, online gaming giant Tencent, and popular online video company PPStream.

"Customers' rights come before anything else. We feel that giving customers the right to choose and gaining their confidence is a form of recognition for Chinese software providers," the group said in a statement.

The statement acknowledged the competitive nature of the field but stressed the importance of maintaining proper boundaries. It said: "Positive competition helps the industry to grow and the final beneficiaries are customers. But malicious competition that uses products and technology as a lethal weapon and treats the customers as a battlefield will only result in abandonment, leading to decline."

The firms pledged to make their products more open and to better explain the products' applications. At the same time, they agreed to accept oversight from users and industry players and to not intercept, block, tamper with or uninstall other companies' software.

At the same time, the founder of Chinese Web security company 360, Dong Haiping, said he is also setting up a software monitoring alliance to allow regular users and experts alike to help promote an internet software industry code of conduct.

According to Dong, the rogue software industry was mostly destroyed 2 years ago but the new threat comes from Trojans. Through the creation of a new evaluation platform users can report irregularities and view reports from computer experts allowing them to make a more informed choice.

The president of 360, Qi Xiangdong, said software development self-regulation by industry and manufacturers is not enough – he believes users and independent third parties must play a role. Without this companies were likely to serve their own interests rather than the interests of the industry or the users at large, he said.

Qi referred to some software vendors who take advantage of users who do not understand computers and convince them to install software they shouldn't. He said if the behavior of the software is made totally transparent the consumer "can call the shots."

Other members of the new alliance include Sogou, Kingsoft, Rising, Maxthon, Kuwo, Kuniu and iCafe.