China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) opened a public consultation on newly-issued draft regulations for the internet sector, as the watchdog more closely monitors tech companies’ business practices and compliance with regulations.

A translated SAMR statement explained the rules aim to prevent unfair competition on the internet, maintain fair competition, and protect the rights and interests of operators and consumers.

SAMR set a deadline of 15 September for submitting feedback.

The rules bar businesses from using their networks to spread false or misleading information, or damage competitors’ business reputation. Companies also cannot use “data, algorithms and other technical means” to influence user choice or “hijack traffic, interfere or impose barriers” which disrupt the normal operation of internet services provided by rivals.

SAMR noted it can bring in third-party organisations to assist with an investigation when evidence of violations is found.

Last month, SAMR blocked plans for a merger of gaming platforms Huya and DouYu, and in April imposed a record fine of CNY18.2 billion ($2.8 billion) on Alibaba for abusing its dominant market position.

SAMR officials held talks with Tencent and Alibaba in 2020 over plans for anti-monopoly rules.