Japan Could Apply Antitrust Law On Digital Cartels

Japanese authorities could apply the antimonopoly law to online businesses that manipulate product prices via artificial intelligence and automated algorithms, according to a government report released Wednesday.

It is the first time that a panel of experts at the Japan Fair Trade Commission has outlined the possible use of the law on AI and automated algorithms, which can be used for setting prices and on online shopping sites.

The panel of experts considered the case of manufacturing and service industries that use similar pricing algorithms to match prices.

Even though companies do not negotiate or discuss pricing issues with each other, they could be violating the antitrust law as long as they recognize that the prices will be set at a certain level in the pricing algorithm, the panel said in the report.

The report also took issue with companies that manipulate the order of items on online shopping sites, saying that the panel hoped the government would “deal strictly” with them.

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