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The People Against Silicon Valley: Governments Turn Against the Power of Big Tech Platforms

2021-05-28T19:13:38.388Z

Europe and the US wage decisive battles against Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook to ensure competition in the technology sector



The EU and the United States, with the help of some companies, counterattack the empire of big technology. Epic vs. Apple; Brussels against Amazon and Google; USA against Amazon; Brussels against Apple ... Examples of this struggle against the accumulation of power of the main names in Silicon Valley are proliferating. "It is the battle of our time, like the one fought against Microsoft in the 1990s," explains Sergio de Juan Creix, professor at the UOC and lawyer at the Croma law firm. "There is no doubt that there is a monopolistic situation that leads to the concentration of large companies" in Silicon Valley.

"Without a doubt, there is a scenario of much more regulation around large technology companies," says Enrique Dans, professor of Innovation and

senior advisor

for Innovation and Digital Transformation at IE Business School. “

Big tech

has shown that they are bad at controlling themselves; the far

west

in technology it has to be left behind, because at one time or another all these companies have abused their capacity ”.

The situation has changed in recent years.

At least in the US "For years, successive US administrations encouraged the seizure of power by technology companies as a way to confront the growing Asian power," argue European legal sources who requested to remain anonymous.

"But now they have seen that they have gotten out of hand."

The penultimate of these battles to limit the power of technology has been led by Apple and its App Store.

Epic Games, creator of video games like

Fortnite

Last summer, he maintained a pulse with the apple company for the high commissions it charges from users of applications like yours. Apple charges a 30% commission for each payment made by users who enter the applications through the App Store since its launch in 2008. Epic decided to make the charges on its own, and Apple removed it from its digital store. Epic filed a lawsuit and the trial was seen for sentencing on Monday. Now, thousands of application developers and Apple itself are waiting expectantly for the verdict, which can change the juicy distribution of income and the way in which the two great platforms for the sale of

apps work

, Apple's and Google's.

Last June, the European Commission announced the opening of two antitrust investigations against Apple to investigate in depth whether the American company violates European competition rules with illegal restrictions on competition through its Apple Store application store and its payments service. Apple Pay.

“Now that it has achieved massive success through the App Store, becoming a multi-million dollar corporation, Epic wants to operate under a different set of rules than those that apply to all other developers.

The result would be a weakening of the protection of privacy and the security of our clients' data, and we believe that this is a mistake ”, Apple explained to EL PAÍS.

Amazon on target

It is the penultimate, because at dawn on Tuesday, the attorney general of the United States capital, Washington DC, Karl Racine, has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, which he accuses of prohibiting sellers from offering their products at higher prices. low on any other online platform, including their own web pages, causing consumers to pay "artificially high" prices.

"Enjoying a dominant position in the market is not illegal in itself," Juan Ignacio Signes de Mesa, a lawyer at the EU Court of Justice and director of the Academy of European Legal Practice, recently assured in an opinion article published in the country.

"Only the abuse of said position is punishable under the Treaty."

The problem is that the laws do not exactly include what can be considered as

abuse

, which leaves the decision in the hands of the courts.

There are, of course, cases that attract attention.

"If I am Amazon and I allow everyone to participate, but I use their data to benefit myself, that constitutes clear abuse," says Enrique Dans.

Case of the year

Another thing, however, is what happens with in the case that has pitted Apple against Epic. Analysts consider a victory for Apple more than probable, and this possibility, predictably, will not facilitate future antitrust cases for US regulators. The

Fortnite

developer company

, however, has already made a profit. As a result of his aggressive public relations campaign, he has succeeded in drawing Apple to the center of the global debate on the regulation of large technology companies.

Europe has traditionally been more belligerent against companies than the US, in part because "there are no European technological champions," which allowed them a more aggressive stance, according to both Dans and European legal sources. Google, without going any further, already occupies the three rungs of the podium of the highest fines imposed on companies by the European Commission for "abusing their dominant position" in the

online

advertising market

for ten years through its Google AdSense platform.

In recent times, however, “a certain convergence on the part of the United States on

big tech

is perceived

, according to Signes de Mesa.

The North American citizen thus seems to be seen now as a victim of excessively permissive competition policies, justified in the objective of facing Asian rivals in the technological field and the Department of Justice published last month its decision to sue Google for similar conduct to those reproached by the Commission in 2019. The latest actions, however, have come from the Trump Administration.

It remains to be seen what the position of the new president Biden will be.

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Source: elparis

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