Weibo, one of China's most well-known social media sites, is being sued by a small software company over alleged anti-competitive restrictions on using the microblogging platform's data, which could test the limits of Beijing's enhanced antitrust enforcement this year.
Eefung Software sued Weibo Corp, owned by Sina Corp, in a local court, stating that the company's refusal of a request to access data constitutes a monopolistic practice, according to an article posted to Eefung's official WeChat account. According to the company - the refusal is "directly destroying" its business model, which includes helping authorities discover and remove "harmful information" online using systems that "monitor and analyse online public opinion". The company's clients include multiple agencies at different levels of government.
The case is the country's first civil antitrust lawsuit, according to the Changsha government.
This year, strengthening antitrust enforcement and "preventing the disorderly expansion of capital" has been at the top of regulators' agenda. The State Administration for Market Regulation is now boosting the headcount of its antitrust division, and a draft amendment of China's 13-year-old Anti-Monopoly Law suggests more scrutiny of the technology sector. The amendment, expected to go into effect next year, says businesses shall not "exclude or limit" competition by abusing data, algorithms, technology, capital advantages or platform rules. A dominant player engaging in these activities is considered to be abusing its market power.
Source: South China Morning Post