EU vs US tech titans: Italy fines Google one day after Germany’s Facebook move

A day after Germany banned Facebook from using WhatsApp users’ data over privacy concerns, Italy on May 13 fined another tech giant, Google, over the charge of ‘abuse of dominant position.’

According to a report in Euronews, Italy’s antitrust authority slapped a fine of 102.8 million euros on Google as it refused to allow Enel X Italia to develop a version of its JuicePass app, which allows users to find and book a place at electric vehicle recharging stations, compatible with Android Auto.

Italy’s Competition and Market Authority (AGCM) said by refusing Enel X Italia inter-operability with Android Auto, Google has unfairly favoured its own Maps app.

A Google spokesperson told Euronews that they would review their options.

In March 2019, the European Union fined Google 1.49 billion euros for imposing restrictive clauses in contracts for third-party websites, preventing its rivals from placing their search adverts on these sites.

Not just Google, several tech giants have been fined or slapped with a host of court cases in Europe in recent years for alleged anti-competitive practices.

Germany: Ban on Facebook

Germany’s ban on May 12 follows a controversy surrounding WhatsApp’s latest privacy terms, which the country’s data protection regulator for Facebook said was illegal.

WhatsApp, which has around 60 million users in Germany, has asked them to accept the new terms or stop using it.

Questioning the legitimacy of the ban, WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, said the Hamburg data protection authority misunderstood the purpose of the update.

But Germany’s national antitrust regulator has said that Facebook’s data practices amount to an abuse of market dominance.

Even Italy’s AGCM had  fined Facebook 10 million euros for misleading users over its data practices in 2018.

Italy: Cloud over Google, Apple and Dropbox

Italy’s competition watchdog opened an inquiry into Google, Apple and Dropbox’s contracts for cloud computing services last year following a number of complaints alleging unfair commercial practices by the tech giants.

The three companies were probed for alleged failure to adequately indicate to users when their data was being collected for commercial purposes.

EU: Apple Guilty as Charged

Earlier this month, the European Commission found that Apple is in breach of EU competition law in relation to the company’s App Store practices. It had started an investigation into an initial complaint from Spotify.

In 2018, Apple also faced another case over intentional slowing down of iPhones with older batteries.

 France: Google and Amazon Fined for Cookies

Last December, France’s online data privacy watchdog fined Google and Amazon 100 million and 35 million euros, respectively for allegedly breaching rules on cookies.

The National Commission for Informatics and Liberties (CNIL) found both the American tech giants automatically placed advertising trackers on users’ computers without their consent.

Disagreeing with the CNIL’s decision, Amazon had said in a statement that protecting the privacy of customers has always been a top priority for the company.

Google too echoed that it stood by its record of providing upfront information and clear controls, strong internal data governance, secure infrastructure and helpful products.

 

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