The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

European Union competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has just opened an inquiry into whether Amazon unfairly uses data gleaned from third-party sellers. The investigation has no deadline and could go on for years. At issue is whether Amazon has an unfair advantage by selling its own goods on the site, in competition with its third-party sellers. Amazon stated it will “cooperate fully” with the investigation as well as “continue working hard to support businesses of all sizes and help them grow.” Continue reading The European Union to Investigate Amazon’s Data Practices

German Price-Comparison Service Files Suit Against Google

Price-comparison service Idealo sued Google in a Berlin court, claiming that the tech behemoth has made it harder for users to find Idealo on the search engine since it began promoting its own price-comparison product Google Shopping. Ideola’s suit also names Google Ireland, Alphabet’s European body, and seeks €500 million in damages. The suit is based on the European Union’s two-year old ruling that fined Google €2.42 billion ($2.72 billion) for favoring its own offerings over those of competitors. Continue reading German Price-Comparison Service Files Suit Against Google

EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

European regulators yesterday fined tech giant Google 1.5 billion euros (about $1.7 billion U.S.) for violating antitrust rules in the online ad market. This marks the European Union’s third fine against Google since 2017. As part of its larger efforts to better regulate global technology powerhouses, EU authorities took action based on their contention that Google has been imposing unfair terms on those companies in Europe that use the Google search feature on their websites. In the U.S., regulators are also taking a closer look at business models and mergers involving big tech companies. Continue reading EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

On January 1, 2019, the French government will begin to tax digital companies including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, even as other members of the European Union have balked at imposing an EU-wide tax. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire declared that, as the other EU countries debate, his country will move forward alone, estimating that the total tax bill will come to 500 million Euros ($568 million), which will help defray 10 billion Euros in emergency spending announced by President Emmanuel Macron. Continue reading France to Impose Tax on U.S. Technology Companies in 2019

Europe Plans to Create Smarter, Energy-Efficient Electronics

The European Union is looking to take on China’s tech dominance by approving up to $9.1 billion in public and private funding that would enable France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom to conduct research in microelectronics. The funding would help companies and research centers work together on developing advanced sensors and microchips, with an emphasis on smarter, more energy-efficient components. The decision coincides with the EU’s efforts to limit foreign investments and restrict business with Chinese tech companies such as Huawei. Continue reading Europe Plans to Create Smarter, Energy-Efficient Electronics

Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Apple, which has evolved from a PC company to an iPhone company, is searching for its “next big thing.” One WSJ journalist believes a clue to what it might be came from chief executive Tim Cook’s revelation that the Apple Watch and AirPods generated $10 billion in revenue over the last four quarters. The company’s wearables sales are growing, even as smartphone and PC sales level off, and IDC said Apple is the wearables market leader, with 17 percent of the global market. Meanwhile, the European Union has approved Apple’s purchase of Shazam, which should fortify the company’s music ambitions. Continue reading Apple Could Push Wearables, EU Okays Shazam Acquisition

Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Google has been fined a record $5.06 billion by the European Union for antitrust violations. The tech giant is accused of abusing the market dominance of its Internet search services and Android mobile operating system. The record fine underlines how European regulators are pushing for more control in today’s digital economy. Google has 90 days to comply and pay the EU fine, or face penalties of up to 5 percent of parent company Alphabet’s daily worldwide revenues (Alphabet earned more than $9 billion in profit for Q1; Google’s net profit for 2017 was $12.62 billion). Google already announced it plans to appeal the ruling; the case could potentially last years. Continue reading Google Fined $5 Billion by European Union in Antitrust Case

Google Releases its Chrome-Based Ad Blocker, Critics Cry Foul

Google just released its Chrome-based ad blocker designed to stop ads from sites that are repeat offenders of the Coalition for Better Ads standard. Especially strict are Google’s standards for mobile ads; it will filter out pop-up ads, ad displayed before the content loads, autoplay video ads with sound, large sticky ads, flashing animated ads, fullscreen scroll-over ads and particularly dense ads. Some critics, however, say Google blacklisted ad formats that won’t impact its own business. Continue reading Google Releases its Chrome-Based Ad Blocker, Critics Cry Foul

Antitrust Case: EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine

The European Union issued a record-breaking $2.7 billion fine against Google yesterday for violating EU antitrust rules. Margrethe Vestager, European commissioner for competition, announced that the seven-year investigation determined the U.S. tech giant had manipulated search results in order to place its own shopping service ahead of services offered by rivals, thereby creating an “illegal advantage.” Google now has up to 90 days to adjust its practices or potentially face additional penalties. The company is said to be considering an appeal. Continue reading Antitrust Case: EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine

Google Offers Formal Response to Two EU Antitrust Charges

Google formally rebutted two antitrust charges made by the European Commission (the European Union’s executive body). The Commission claims that Google has used its search engine to boost Google Shopping, its price comparison service, and AdSense, its ad placement service. A third European Union antitrust suit claims that Google’s mobile OS is a ‘Trojan horse’ to promote its own products and services, injuring potential rivals. The EU says it “cannot at this stage prejudge the final outcome of the investigation.” Continue reading Google Offers Formal Response to Two EU Antitrust Charges

European Commission: Apple Must Pay Tax Penalty to Ireland

The European Commission has issued a $14.5 billion tax penalty against Apple, claiming the tech giant owes unpaid taxes following a sweetheart deal with Ireland that constitutes illegal state aid. Apple and Ireland both have plans to appeal the decision. “We never asked for, nor did we receive, any special deals,” wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook. “We now find ourselves in the unusual position of being ordered to retroactively pay additional taxes to a government that says we don’t owe them any more than we’ve already paid.” The Wall Street Journal suggests the “decision is likely to aggravate trans-Atlantic tensions over the investigations into tax deals brokered between U.S. multinational corporations and individual European countries.” Continue reading European Commission: Apple Must Pay Tax Penalty to Ireland

European Officials Accuse Google of Breaking Antitrust Rules

European officials have charged Google with violating competition rules by favoring Android over rival mobile software. Europe’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager accused the tech giant of unfairly promoting its own mobile search and Chrome browser with phone makers. “We believe that Google’s behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players,” said Vestager. From Brussels, the European Commission issued a release stating that Google has “abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators.” Continue reading European Officials Accuse Google of Breaking Antitrust Rules

EU Takes Aim at Geo-Blocking, Faces Off Against Hollywood

The European Union is taking on geo-blocking — the practice of restricting access to online content based on location — in a move that pits it against Hollywood studios 20th Century Fox, Disney, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, as well as pay TV’s Sky. EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager says she will detail the EU’s concerns by the end of March. Joining the EU in its case is BEUC, the European consumer organization. Both groups are also looking at restrictions related to video games. Continue reading EU Takes Aim at Geo-Blocking, Faces Off Against Hollywood

Google’s Fall From Grace in EU Culminates in Antitrust Suit

Google, which enjoyed enormous popularity and usage numbers in the European Union, now suffers blowback from information revealed in the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Not long ago, free-speech advocates in many countries applauded Google for shutting down its China site rather than face censorship, and Google has also been seen on the right side of history during the Arab Spring and in Syria. But now, the EU is accusing the tech giant of abusing its power — and it is looking for payback via an antitrust suit. Continue reading Google’s Fall From Grace in EU Culminates in Antitrust Suit

European Union Expresses Privacy Concerns Regarding Google

The European Parliament recently voted in favor of breaking up Google in European territories. While the nonbinding vote holds no legal power, the decision to vote in favor of such a break-up shows the resistance that Google has encountered from the European Union. The vote comes in the wake of a recent appeal by privacy advocates and the EU to extend the “right to be forgotten” policy for European citizens beyond the European Google search engine. Continue reading European Union Expresses Privacy Concerns Regarding Google