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Technology

Japan presses e-tailers to explain search algorithms to fight bias

Watchdog eyes law forcing Amazon and Rakuten to divulge product ranking methods

Japan is seeking e-tailers to disclose more about how they rank products on their platforms.

TOKYO -- E-commerce platforms such as Amazon.com and Rakuten should disclose more about their search algorithms to ensure that all vendors are treated fairly, Japan's Fair Trade Commission said in a report issued Thursday.

The report, based on broad surveys as well as interviews of individual companies, found that sellers suspect platform operators skew search rankings toward products by those that spend heavily on advertising. The operators usually do not detail how their algorithms work but say they favor the most relevant and bestselling products.

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