Displaying items by tag: Google
A French consumer rights group said that it has launched a class action lawsuit against US tech giant Google for violating the EU's strict data privacy laws.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) called for new regulations on Facebook, Google and other tech behemoths which could have far-reaching ramifications on their money-making procedures and their ability to choose which content consumers would consume.
The country’s competition watchdog devised some recommendations which, if confirmed, would be among the most restrictive towards tech giants. These recommendations were created in an effort to limit the power of these tech giants due to global concerns of their influence and various other issues such as anti-trust, privacy abuse and the role they play in spreading discriminatory content and misinforming the public.
The ACCC plans to issue its final report by the end of June, following its 18-month inquiry into the issue. This report is expected to comprise of various proposals pertaining to controls that will be imposed on tech giants which handle a large quantity of personal data to use for marketing purposes such as the use of algorithms to coordinate which advertisements to display to customers, which tailored search results will appear and other tailored content.
In the lengthy preliminary report which was issued in December last year, the ACCC raised concerns about the market power of tech companies like Facebook and Google and how their operations are characterized by a “lack of transparency”, especially with regards to the use of our data.
The report, which was initiated by the conservative government, read,: “We are at a critical point in considering the impact of digital platforms on society.” It also shed some light on the impact the tech giants had on Australia’s new industry.
In fact, it was found that since 2014, two tech titans were receiving a huge fraction of the revenues generated from digital advertising which resulted in the number of newspapers and online journalists falling by over 20 per cent.
“While the ACCC recognizes their significant benefits to consumers and business, there are important questions to be asked about the role the global digital platforms play in the supply of news and journalism in Australia,” read the report.
The competition watchdog stated that it wanted to make sure the big firms did not “favor their own business interests, through their marketing power and presence across multiple markets”.
“There are also issues with the role of digital platforms in determining what news and information is accessed by Australians, how this information is provided, and its range and reliability.”
Rod Sims, ACCC chairman, stated that regulatory authorities In the UK, Europe and the U.S. were monitoring the outcome of their inquiry very closely as they are all still in the process of determining their policies regarding the issue.
Many are of the belief that the ACCC’s recommendations are impractical and a little radical.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has already begun to take action against the growing influence of Big Tech. This includes enabling criminal penalties for social media execs which allow the spread of violent or hateful content on their platforms.
Head of DIGI, the lobbying group formed by various tech behemoths to deal with the regulator, Sunit Bose, said, “We obviously need really clear rules for the internet that protect privacy, safety, the economic and social benefits of technology while also protecting competition and innovations.”
She also argued that the Australian regulator’s recommendations would hurt Big Tech, as well as start-ups and smaller companies that lack the resources to deal with the new regulations.
“the prospect of having to disclose such sensitive information will serve as a deterrent to global digital companies and start-ups initiating or expanding their operation in Australia,” she said.
US tech giant Google has appealed an EU fine of 1.49 billion euros ($1.69 billion) for unfair practices through misuse of its dominant position, a source close to the case said.
Chinese telecom giant Huawei says it could roll out its own operating system for smartphones and laptops in China by the autumn after the United States blacklisted the company. The international version of the system could be ready in the first or second quarter of 2020, said Richard Yu, the head of Huawei's consumer business.
On Saturday, the Australian government pledged to introduce new laws on social media executives in light of the latest terrorist attack in New Zealand.
The new law would be imposed on social media executives of big tech companies which could lead up to a three-year prison sentence if they fail to remove extremist material from their platforms.
This new legislation is to be discussed in parliament next week.
Facebook has said that it removed around 1.5 million videos which comprised of the livestreamed massacre which took play on March 15 in Christchurch mosque in New Zealand. It was a 17-minute video which was filmed by the terrorist himself going on a rampage and killing 50 innocent people. This video was almost immediately available online and Facebook quickly took the video down several hours after the attack.
“Big social media companies have a responsibility to take evry possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Morrison met with several tech companies on Tuesday some of which included Facebook, Twitter and Google. At the meeting, Australia stated that it would advise other G20 countries to do the same and hold social media firms accountable.
At the meeting, Facebook said that it was “committed to working with leaders and communities” in order to “help counter hate speech and the threat of terrorism.” However, the tech company refused to give any further comments.
Attorney General Christian Porter said that the new legislation would make it a criminal offence if social media platforms fail to discard “abhorrent violent material” such as murder, rape and terror attacks.
The fines for such an offence are expected to be worth billions of dollars.
Porter stated, “Mainstream media hat broadcast such material would be putting their licence at risk and there is no reason why social media platforms should be treated any differently.”
Nigel Phair, a cybersecurity expert, hinted that this new law could not possibly imprison social media executives. He stated that jail was reserved for “serious criminal matters” and that executives based in Australia were not company “decision makers”.
“Jails is for violent offenders, not marketing representatives in Australia of an American social media company.”
He said that the social media firms could have done more than what they pledged to do on Tuesday. He added, “They didn’t read the tea leaves back then, it’ll be different how they read the tea leaves now.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has planned to implement an increase in taxes on internet giants such as Google and Facebook.
After failing to convince his European counterparts to introduce it as an EU-wide tax, he decided to implement it in his own country. Many EU officials were against the idea such as Ireland which is well-known for its low-tax jurisdictions.
The matter will be discussed by cabinet ministers and then submitted to Parliament. The proposal put forward regarding the new tax mechanism suggests that lare companies operating within France are subject to a tax of three per cent on their digital sales made within the territory.
This weekend, French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told Le Parisien, “The amount obtained from this three per cent tax on digital gross sales in France from January1, 2019 should soon reach 500 million Euros.”
This new tax is called “GAFA tax” which stands for Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon.
Indeed, the European Commission found that Apple paid just 0.005 per cent of corporate tax on its European profits in 2014 which equates to approximately 50 Euros per million. As a result, in 2016 Apple was ordered by the European Commission to make a payment of 13 billion Euros in taxes to Ireland.
Under EU law, internet giants are expected to report their income which has prompted them to opt for low-tax nations for business such as Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
Under the legislation which will be presented by French politician Bruno Le Maire on Wednesday, digital companies with sales of more than 750 million euros per year globally and more than 25 million n France will be taxed.
Le Maire stated, “If these two critera are not met, the taxes will not be imposed.”
He also said that around 30 companies in China, Germany, the US, Spain and the UK will be affected by this tax.
According to Le Maire, taxing such companies “is a question of fiscal justice” because “digital giants pay 14 per cent less tax than small- and medium-sized European companies.”
Ireland, Sweden and Denmark have refused the EU’s efforts to implement a new tax due to fear of decreased investment. Germany had a somewhat neutral stance on the matter as it feared an adverse response from the S against its car industry.
While the prospect of enforcing this tax within Europe has failed, France is hoping for a global agreement by 2020.
France is trying to pursue “common ground” on the issue with members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which is comprised of representatives from the most advanced economies in the world.
Britain, Italy and Spain have also been working on a new digital tax while Singapore, Japan and India are in the process of planning their own schemes.
Recently, aggressive legal action by tax authorities has been taken against these companies.
Just last month, Apple reached an agreement to pay 10 years’ worth of backtracked taxes which amounted to nearly 500 million Euros.
However in 2017, France tax collection drive experienced a setback when their court action against Google resulted in the internet giant not being liable to pay 101 billion Euros in taxes from revenues which were reportedly transferred from France to Ireland.
French tax is “symbolic and does not solve the problem of massive fiscal evastion,” said Raphael Pradeau from the anti-globalisation lobby group Attac. “It’s as if we accept that such firms can practice tax evasion in return for a few crumbs.”
Internet behemoth Google deemed the overhaul of the bloc’s online copyright law to be damaging for Europe for “decades to come” as it urged the European parliament to resist its approval.
European lawmakers have until next week to vote on the landmark legislation. This legislation that is aimed at modernizing copyright for the digital age has caused a lobbying war in Brussels.
This reform has been debated for the past few years by EU member states, tech giants and artistic creators. Google has tried to approach MEPs to discourage the law from being passed this month.
The biggest issue as of yet is the request for illegal content to be deleted off YouTube (owned by Google) and various other platforms using automatic filters otherwise, there would be liable.
According to Google’s senior Vice President of Global Affairs, Kent Walker, the reform “creates vague, untested requirements” that would mean that many websites would end up “over-blocking content”.
“This would be bad for creators and users who will see online services wrongly block content simple because they need to err on the side of caution and reduce legal risks,” he said.
The “unintended consequences” could potentially “hurt Europe’s creative economy for decades to come” he added.
Another issue is the provision to devise “neighboring rights” for media publishers.
News organizations are in favor of this legislation to be passed because they feel that tech giants such as Facebook have made billions from advertising that is very often tied to news stories, while the publishing industry suffers.
In reference to the implications of this planned reform on the publishing industry, Walker said that it “hurts small and emerging publishers, and limits consumer access to a diversity of news sources.”
He warned: “Under the directive, showing anything beyond mere facts, hyperlinks and ‘individual words and very short extracts’ would be restricted.”
Due to the controversy around the issue, the outcome of the vote remains uncertain.
US technology behemoth Google has announced that it will spend $13bn in expanding its US data centre network.
US technology behemoth Google is at the centre of an investigation by Indian competition officials after it was alleged that Google may have engaged in anti-competitive practices.
Google stands accused of abusing the market dominance of its Android platform. The European Union conducted a 3-year investigation that only concluded last year.
The European Commission determined that the deemed requirements for Android device makers to use Google apps were illegal. The US tech leader was subsequently fined €4.3bn.
Reports emerging from India claim that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) began probing potential abuse of Android’s position six months ago, following a complaint filed by a group of individuals.
In addition to this, it has been further disclosed that Google executives met with Indian officials to discuss the matter in greater detail. The CCI must now make their deliberations before deciding whether the case merits a further investigation, or if it should be dismissed.
A source told Reuters, “It is on the lines of the EU case, but at a preliminary stage. The EC’s action would make it difficult for the CCI to reject further investigation without demonstrating the problem has been addressed.”
Following the decision handed down by the EC, Google announced its intentions to stop bundling preinstalled apps with its Android platform and instead charge manufacturers a fee to licence its apps, as part of a bid to avoid additional fines.
Google has been in trouble in India before.
In February 2018, the CCI imposed an INR1.36 billion ($19.3 million) fine on the company for abusing its dominance in online web search and search advertising markets.
Google appealed against the fine, stating it could cause irreparable harm and reputational loss.
A new industrial revolution is underway in the heart of the Irish capital as clusters of warehouses housing vast quantities of data continue to emerge.
Dublin has really embraced technology in an effort to boost its flagging and shrinking economy following the global crash in 2008. Internet behemoths such as Facebook, Apple and Google all have their European HQ’s in Dublin and the city has become the continent’s No.1 data hub.
A familiar term within the ICT ecosystem is that ‘data is the new oil’ and will fuel the global economy. Those sentiments were echoed by Brian Roe, Commercial Director of Serve-Centric, which is a data center company.
Roe said, “Data is the new oil, definitely. These powerhouse developments provide 24/7/365 access to the massive data, processing power and storage that digital services around Europe require. People are saying, ‘Well everything is going to come from the cloud’. Well where's the cloud? The cloud is data centers."
Ireland’s industry lobby group Host has said the new phenomenon has become the unlikely engine room for everything from video streaming to phone apps and social media.
In addition to this, progressive government incentives, a highly-skilled workforce and high connectivity to Europe and America are helping attract data center construction investment which is expected to reach nine billion euros ($10 billion) by 2021.
The sector employs 5,700 people in full-time equivalent roles including 1,800 as data center operators, according to a report produced for Ireland's investment agency. Many of Ireland’s brightest young talent were forced to emigrate after the recession, but many are no returning to avail of the exciting new opportunities presented by Dublin’s transformation into a tech hub.
Data has become a hot topic in Europe following the introduction of GDPR. Enterprises have been forced to examine their data harvesting and storage practices in a more forensic manner. Consumers have also now been awakened to the dangers of providing their data online following the high-profile Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal which emerged last year.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) -- which provides cloud services for hire -- is a particular concern for Paul O' Neill, a researcher based at Dublin City University. "The ethical implications of hosting AWS data centers in Ireland are potentially vast," he said.
AWS, which has announced plans to expand its Dublin operations, sells controversial facial recognition technology to US police.
"These corporations are or have been involved in many of the dominant controversies and debates of our contemporary networked era including privacy, data breaches and surveillance.”