Categories: Regulation

Big Tech Compliance Tracker: Apple, Google, Amazon Boost UK Fees To Cover New Digital Tax; Amazon Gets FAA’s OK For Drone Delivery

Here’s the latest news for Big Tech’s Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, which are coming under increasing scrutiny from legislators and regulators the world over.

Regulation

Russian Legislator Seeks to Place Limits on App Commissions

Russian legislator Fedot Tumusov sent a draft bill to the country’s lower parliamentary body that calls for a limit of 20 percent on commissions for the sale of mobile apps, Reuters reported. In addition, the legislation would make sellers pay a third of commissions to a dedicated training fund for technology specialists each quarter.

Tumusov wrote in a social media post that “lowering the commission and having the ability to bring products to users is a growth opportunity for IT developers.”

The proposal comes at a time when Google and Apple’s right to charge commissions and make a sizable portion of sales has come under fire worldwide by companies that develop apps, such as Epic Games.

Amazon Gets the Green Light for Drones

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Amazon Prime Air a Part 135 air carrier certificate authorizing the use of drones.

“The FAA’s role is to ensure that any [drone] operation is performed safely,” the FAA said in a statement to PYMNTS. “The FAA supports innovation that is beneficial to the public, especially during a health or weather-related crisis.”

David Carbon, Amazon’s vice president of Prime Air, said in a statement to PYMNTS that “this certification is an important step forward for Prime Air and indicates the FAA’s confidence in Amazon’s operating and safety procedures for an autonomous drone-delivery service that will one day deliver packages to our customers around the world.”

Taxes

Big Tech Updates Fees to Reflect UK Digital Services Tax

Apple announced upcoming tax changes for apps and in-app purchases to include tax law changes in the U.K. and other countries. For example, the company intends to pass on a new 2 percent U.K. digital services tax on to consumers in addition to an existing 20 percent value-added tax.

Meanwhile, Google is set to make advertisers pay Britain’s digital services tax. It has informed customers that they will have to pay another charge for advertisements provided through YouTube and Google starting in November, The Guardian reported.

“Digital service taxes increase the cost of digital advertising,” Google said in a statement to PYMNTS. “Typically, these kinds of cost increases are borne by customers, and like other companies affected by this tax, we will be adding a fee to our invoices from November.”

And in early August, Amazon announced upcoming 2 percent increases to U.K. customer charges to cover the new tax. The eCommerce giant indicated that it would add the 2 percent cost on to Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) fees, monthly FBA storage charges, referral fees and multichannel fulfillment charges.

“We will not apply the increased charges retroactively, but starting 1 September 2020, the fee types listed above will increase,” the company said in an announcement.

News

Facebook Aims to Foster US Voting and Combat Election Misinformation

Facebook is implementing additional measures to “encourage voting, connect people with authoritative information, and fight misinformation,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a recent post.

The social media company will also prohibit new political and issue ads in the campaign’s last week and put “authoritative information” from its Voting Information Center at the top of Instagram and Facebook nearly daily before the election, Zuckerberg wrote.

“This election is not going to be business as usual,” he wrote. “We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy. That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest.”

Apple’s Dispute With Epic Games Gets German Watchdog’s Attention

Germany’s antitrust chief said his agency is watching the dispute between Apple and Epic Games with “great interest,” Bloomberg reported.

“One thing is clear: app stores are an interesting biotope, simply because there are only two of them globally,” Andreas Mundt said at a press event, pointing to Google Play and the Apple App Store, per Bloomberg. “Every developer on this planet who produces an app needs to pass through their gates — that’s indeed interesting, to put it cautiously.”

Mundt’s comments came as Apple and Epic remain linked in a court battle over commissions. Epic recently rolled out a way for Fortnite users to pay for games without incurring a 30 percent commission that goes to Apple. But Apple countered by closing the developer’s account last week, preventing the company from revising Fortnite within the App store.

Facebook Might Ban Users From Posting News Articles in Australia

Facebook has indicated that it might not allow users to distribute news content in Australia amid legislation that would require the social media giant to provide payment to publishing companies for news, the BBC reported.

“The proposed law is unprecedented in its reach and seeks to regulate every aspect of how tech companies do business with news publishers,” Will Easton, managing director of Facebook Australia & New Zealand, wrote in a post. “Most perplexing, it would force Facebook to pay news organizations for content that the publishers voluntarily place on our platforms, and at a price that ignores the financial value we bring publishers.”

But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission countered in a statement that “Facebook’s threat today to prevent any sharing of news on its services in Australia is ill-timed and misconceived. The draft media bargaining code aims to ensure Australian news businesses, including independent, community and regional media, can get a seat at the table for fair negotiations with Facebook and Google.”

DOJ Reportedly Plans to Sue Google as Early as This Month

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) could sue Google for alleged antitrust violations as early as September, per media reports.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr intends to file an antitrust case against the tech company this month despite pleas from staff attorneys who say they need more time to make the complaint more formidable. Reuters cited two unnamed sources as saying the case will focus on advertising and search.

Deputy U.S. Attorney General Jeff Rosen told Reuters last month that he wasn’t able to set a deadline for when the department would come to a decisions as to whether it would sue the tech company on antitrust grounds.

“We are going full-tilt,” Rosen told Reuters at the time. “It’s a major priority.”

However, other media reported that Barr wants to sue Google before the November U.S. presidential election.

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The How We Shop Report, a PYMNTS collaboration with PayPal, aims to understand how consumers of all ages and incomes are shifting to shopping and paying online in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our research builds on a series of studies conducted since March, surveying more than 16,000 consumers on how their shopping habits and payments preferences are changing as the crisis continues. This report focuses on our latest survey of 2,163 respondents and examines how their increased appetite for online commerce and digital touchless methods, such as QR codes, contactless cards and digital wallets, is poised to shape the post-pandemic economy.