EU opens probe into Alibaba’s AliExpress over illegal content, pornography on platform

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The logo of the Alibaba office building is seen in the Huangpu District in Shanghai, June 16, 2023.

Costfoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

The European Commission on Thursday said it opened a formal investigation into AliExpress, an international e-commerce website run by Chinese tech giant Alibaba, over concerns surrounding the dissemination of illegal content.

The Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, opened the probe into AliExpress under its landmark Digital Services Act, which came into effect this month. The wide-sweeping legislation aims to keep tech giants in check in areas from anti-competitive behavior to ensuring misinformation is not rife on their platforms.

The investigation focuses on whether AliExpress may have breached the DSA in “areas linked to the management and mitigation of risks, to content moderation and the internal complaint handling mechanism, to the transparency of advertising and recommender systems, to the traceability of traders and to data access for researchers,” the Commission said.

The Commission will look at whether there was a lack of enforcement of AliExpress’ own terms of service, which prohibit certain products that pose a risk for consumers’ health, such as fake medicines.

The probe will also focus on whether there were violations of the DSA that allowed minors to access pornographic material, which the Commission said consumers can still find on the platform.

Other areas of the probe include how AliExpress recommends products to users and whether the e-commerce site complies with a rule that allows a searchable repository of ads that are provided on the platform.

This is the third formal probe under the DSA, following those opened into TikTok and social media platform X.

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