China's Internet management agency Thursday moved to better regulate companies that provide website search services and ensure they meet basic technical standards.
The regulation, which was issued by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), aims to provide technical guidance for Internet companies in China collecting and storing website names in data banks.
At present, dozens of Chinese Internet service companies provide website search services by key words using different technical standards.
The United States-based AOL and Microsoft have already carved out sizable market shares on the strength of their technical advantages.
"Different service providers have different technical standards, which tends to cause inconvenience for Internet users," said CNNIC director Mao Wei at Thursday's press conference publicizing the new regulation.
According to Chinese laws and regulations, website search engines can be provided by domestic or foreign Internet companies.
"The situation could potentially undermine China's information security if we don't take measures to regulate these services," said Mao.
For example, some foreign companies have data banks of China's websites, giving them free access to any of those sites.
In developed countries, website search services can only be provided by qualified companies that are approved by Internet management authorities.
"The technical regulation is our first step towards governing the service," said Mao.
Six major domestic Internet companies, including Sohu and Huyi Information Resources, have signed up to the new rule.
"The regulation aims to ensure all Internet service providers in China meet certain technical requirements," said Mao.
(China Daily April 18, 2003)