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Europe’s battle with Big Tech: billions in fines and tough laws

The European Union is on a mission to rein in US tech giants, which have been accused of tax avoidance, stifling competitors, raking in billions from information with out paying for it and spreading misinformation.

Previously few years, the EU has slapped eye-watering fines on Apple and Google in tax and competitors instances, and drawn up a landmark regulation to curb the market dominance of Large Tech. Brussels has additionally toughened its code of conduct on disinformation and hate speech.

As a European courtroom prepares Wednesday to rule on Google’s attraction of an enormous 4.3-billion-euro antitrust fantastic ($5 billion on the time it was levied), we have a look at the battle between Brussels and Silicon Valley:

– Stifling competitors – The digital giants are often criticised for dominating markets by elbowing out rivals.

In July, the European Parliament adopted a landmark regulation, the Digital Markets Act, to curb the market dominance of Large Tech, with violations punishable with fines of as much as 10 % of an organization’s annual international gross sales.

Brussels has slapped over eight billion euros in fines on Google alone for abusing its dominant market place.

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In 2018, the corporate was fined 4.3 billion euros — the most important ever antitrust penalty imposed by the EU — for abusing the dominant place of its Android cell working system to advertise Google’s search engine.

Google has appealed the decision. The agency can also be difficult a 2.4-billion-euro fantastic it was slapped with in 2017 for abusing its energy in on-line buying and a separate 1.49-billion-euro fantastic from 2019 for “abusive practices” in internet marketing.

The EU has additionally gone after Apple, accusing it of blocking rivals from its contactless iPhone fee system and fined Microsoft 561 million euros in 2013 for imposing its search engine Web Explorer on customers of Home windows 7.

Italy joined the motion final yr, hitting Amazon with an enormous 1.1-billion-euro antitrust fantastic for abusing its dominance to push its logistics enterprise.

– Taxation – The EU has had much less success in getting US tech corporations to pay extra taxes in Europe, the place they’re accused of funnelling income into low-tax economies like Eire and Luxembourg.

In one of the crucial infamous instances, the European Fee in 2016 discovered that Eire granted unlawful tax advantages to Apple and ordered the corporate pay 13 billion euros in again taxes.

However the EU’s Common Court docket later overturned the ruling, saying there was no proof the corporate broke the foundations.

The Fee additionally misplaced an identical case involving Amazon, which it had ordered to repay 250 million euros in again taxes to Luxembourg.

Annoyed by the dearth of progress, France, Italy and a number of other different European nations solid forward with their very own taxes on tech corporations whereas ready for a world settlement on the problem.

That got here in October 2021 when the G20 group of countries agreed on a minimal 15 % company tax fee. Almost 140 nations signed as much as the deal.

– Private information – Tech giants are often criticised over how they collect and use private information.

The EU has led the cost to rein them in with its 2018 Common Knowledge Safety Regulation, which has since turn into a global reference.

They have to ask for consent once they accumulate private data and should not use information collected from a number of sources to profile customers towards their will.

Amazon was fined 746 million euros by Luxembourg in 2021 for flouting the foundations.

Earlier this month, Instagram was hit, with Irish authorities fining the Meta subsidiary 405 million euros for breaching EU rules on the dealing with of kids’s information.

– Faux information and hate speech – Social networks, significantly Fb and Twitter, are sometimes accused of failing to deal with disinformation and hate speech.

In July, the European Parliament permitted a Digital Providers Act that forces huge on-line corporations to cut back dangers linked to disinformation or face fines of as much as six % of their international turnover.

– Paying for information – Google and different on-line platforms are additionally accused of constructing billions from information with out sharing the income with those that collect it.

To deal with this, an EU regulation in 2019 created a type of copyright known as “neighbouring rights” permitting for print media to demand compensation to be used of their content material.

France was the primary nation to implement the directive.

After preliminary resistance, Google and Fb agreed to pay French media, together with AFP, for articles proven in net searches.

That didn’t cease the corporate being fined half-a-billion euros by France’s competitors authority in July 2021 for failing to barter “in good religion”, a ruling Google has appealed.

Fb has additionally agreed to pay for some French content material.

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