Category: european commission

June 5, 2019 Off

Google appeals $1.7BN EU AdSense antitrust fine

By Jill T Frey

Like clockwork, Google has filed a legal appeal against the €1.49 billion ($1.7BN) antitrust penalty the European Commission slapped on its search ad brokering business three months ago.

The Telegraph reported late yesterday that the appeal had been lodged in the General Court of the European Union in Brussels.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the appeal has been filed but declined to comment further.

Reached for comment, a Commission spokesperson told us: “The Commission will defend its decision in Court.”

The AdSense antitrust decision is the third fine for Google under the Commission’s current antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager — who also issued a $5BN penalty for anti-competitive behaviors attached to Android last summer; following a $2.7BN fine for Google Shopping antitrust violations, in mid 2017.

Google is appealing both earlier penalties but has also made changes to how it operates Google Shopping and Android in Europe in the … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Aptoide, a Play Store rival, cries antitrust foul over Google hiding its app

By Jill T Frey

As US regulators gear up to launch another antitrust probe of Google’s business, an alternative Android app store is dialling up its long time complaint of anti-competitive behavior against the search and smartphone OS giant.

Portugal-based Aptoide is launching a campaign website to press its case and call for Google to “Play Fair” — accusing Mountain View of squeezing consumer choice by “preventing users from freely choosing their preferred app store”.

Aptoide filed its first EU antitrust complaint against Google all the way back in 2014, joining a bunch of other complainants crying foul over how Google was operating Android.

And while the European Commission did eventually step in, slapping Google with a $5BN penalty for antitrust abuses last summer after a multi-year investigation, rivals continue to complain the Android maker still isn’t playing fair.

In the case of Aptoide, the alternative Android app store says Google has … Read the rest

May 28, 2019 Off

EU-US Privacy Shield complaint to be heard by Europe’s top court in July

By Jill T Frey

A legal challenge to the EU-US Privacy Shield, a mechanism used by thousands of companies to authorize data transfers from the European Union to the US, will be heard by Europe’s top court this summer.

The General Court of the EU has set a date of July 1 and 2 to hear the complaint brought by French digital rights group, La Quadrature du Net, against the European Commission’s renegotiated data transfer agreement which argues the arrangement is still incompatible with EU law on account of US government mass surveillance practices.

Privacy Shield was only adopted three years ago after its forerunner, Safe Harbor, was struck down by the European Court of Justice in 2015 following the 2013 exposé of US intelligence agencies’ access to personal data, revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The renegotiated arrangement tightened some elements, and made the mechanism subject to annual reviews by the Commission to … Read the rest

May 20, 2019 Off

Trump’s Huawei ban also causing tech shocks in Europe

By Jill T Frey

The escalating U.S.-China trade war that’s seen Chinese tech giant Huawei slapped on a U.S. trade blacklist is causing ripples of shock across Europe too, as restrictions imposed on U.S. companies hit regional suppliers concerned they could face U.S. restrictions if they don’t ditch Huawei.

Reuters reports shares fell sharply today in three European chipmakers — Infineon Technologies, AMS and STMicroelectronics — after reports suggested some already had, or were about to, halt shipments to Huawei following the executive order barring U.S. firms from trading with the Chinese tech giant.

The interconnectedness of high-tech supply chains coupled with U.S. dominance of the sector and Huawei’s strong regional position as a supplier of cellular, IT and network kit in Europe suddenly makes political risk a fast-accelerating threat for EU technology companies, large and small.

On the small side is French startup Qwant, which competes with Google by offering a pro-privacy search … Read the rest

May 3, 2019 Off

When it comes to elections, Facebook moves slow, may still break things

By Jill T Frey

This week, Facebook invited a small group of journalists — which didn’t include TechCrunch — to look at the “war room” it has set up in Dublin, Ireland, to help monitor its products for election-related content that violates its policies. (“Time and space constraints” limited the numbers, a spokesperson told us when he asked why we weren’t invited.)

Facebook announced it would be setting up this Dublin hub — which will bring together data scientists, researchers, legal and community team members, and others in the organization to tackle issues like fake news, hate speech and voter suppression — back in January. The company has said it has nearly 40 teams working on elections across its family of apps, without breaking out the number of staff it has dedicated to countering political disinformation. 

We have been told that there would be “no news items” during the closed tour — which, … Read the rest

April 29, 2019 Off

Facebook accused of blocking wider efforts to study its ad platform

By Jill T Frey

Facebook has been accused of blocking the ability of independent researchers to effectively study how political disinformation flows across its ad platform.

Adverts that the social network’s business is designed to monetize have — at the very least — the potential to influence people and push voters’ buttons, as the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data misuse scandal highlighted last year.

Since that story exploded into a major global scandal for Facebook, the company has faced a chorus of calls from policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic for increased transparency and accountability.

It has responded with lashings of obfuscation, misdirection and worse.

Among Facebook’s less controversial efforts to counter the threat that disinformation poses to its business are what it bills “election security” initiatives, such as identity checks for political advertisers. Even these efforts have looked hopelessly flat-footed, patchy and piecemeal in the face of concerned attempts to … Read the rest