Tech giants feeling the heat in Europe

Written by NTN staff

Google is facing a multibillion-euro fine from the EU for its practices, while Facebook is in hot waters with the UK’s ICO.

The EU is expected to issue a multibillion-euro fine to Google for abusing the dominance of the Android operating system, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported. The EC has been critical ofg Google’s Android practices for some time now and it seems it has finally decided to act.

Google requires device makers to include its apps on devices, and prominantly position them in order to gain access to other Google services such as the Play app store and content catalogue. This bundling effectively closes out competitors, the EU argues.

Another accusation is Google’s treatment of vendors using apps and services other than those from Google, by preventing them from also offering smartphones powered by the full Google platform.

WSJ stated the fine could trump the €2.4 billion Google received related to its shopping service in 2017. Another probe into Google’s AdSense advertising service is also underway.
Fellow Silicon Valley giant Facebook is also in deep waters in Europe and could be forced to pay a £500,000 fine for its role in a recent data breach scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, according to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

The ICO, a government data protection body, said it launched an investigation in May 2017 looking at political parties, data analytics companies and major social media platforms. It said it intends to fine Facebook £500,000, the maximum it was able to impose, for two breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998.

“The ICO’s investigation concluded that Facebook contravened the law by failing to safeguard people’s information. It also found that the company failed to be transparent about how people’s data was harvested by others,” ICO said in a statement.

Andrew Parsons, Partner at law firm Womble Bond Dickinson, commented: "It’s rare for the ICO to publicly announce that they intend to fine someone before they actually levy the fine. Given the reputation damage that can be done by a fine, this does not seem a fair course of action before a final decision has been taken. It tends to suggest that the ICO is not really interested in what Facebook’s response might be. Hopefully this is an exceptional case and not a change of strategy as that would make interacting with the ICO quite difficult."