Categories: Regulation

Big Tech Compliance Tracker: Facebook Hints At EU Pullout Over Data Transfers Laws; Appeal Filed Over Apple’s $15B Tax Bill On Ireland Operations; In-App Billing Battle Rages On

The latest news on Apple, Google, Facebook and other Big Tech firms that are coming under increasing scrutiny from regulatory watchdogs, trade organizations and politicians globally.

Regulations

Facebook Threatens EU Withdrawal Over Data Sovereignty

With the fate of TikTok grabbing all the press, you may have missed the news that Facebook is talking about denying itself and its sister social platform Instagram to the European Union (EU) over new proposals that would stop the social media giant from transferring data on EU users back to Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley. SocialMediaToday reported that in early September, an EU “privacy regulator … sent Facebook a preliminary order to suspend data transfers to the U.S. about its EU users.” The dustup reportedly deals with EU concerns over surveillance uses.

“If the decision is upheld, ‘it is not clear to [Facebook] how, in those circumstances, it could continue to provide the Facebook and Instagram services in the EU,’ Yvonne Cunnane, Facebook Ireland’s head of data protection and associate general counsel, wrote in a sworn affidavit,” Vice News reported.

Canadian Lawmakers Want Big Tech to Pay for Content, Taxes

Saying that “the government will act to ensure [web companies'] revenue is shared more fairly with our creators and media" and adding that "corporate tax avoidance by digital giants” is next on its list, members of Canada’s governing Liberal party last week renewed calls to legislate changes to force Big Tech platforms to pay media producers a cut of ad dollars.

CBC reported that “in its throne speech on [Sept. 23], the Liberal government put it this way: ‘Web giants are taking Canadians' money while imposing their own priorities.’” That speech was delivered by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, who pledged that "things must change, and will change." But Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault has been one of the more outspoken critics of Big Tech content practices in Canada, quoted by CBC as saying, "The days where the [tech] companies could decide just about everything ... are over."

Taxes

EU Renews Demand for Back Taxes on Apple’s Ireland Ops

In July, Apple won a major victory in its fight not to pay a $14.8 billion back-tax bill in Ireland. Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission for a Europe Fit for the Digital Age, last week appealed that ruling and wants the tax bill paid. As reported by Fortune, Vestager said in a statement that “the General Court judgment raises important legal issues that are of relevance to the Commission in its application of state-aid rules to tax planning cases. The Commission also respectfully considers that in its judgment, the General Court has made a number of errors of law. For this reason, the Commission is bringing this matter before the European Court of Justice."

More Nevada Tax Breaks for Google Data Centers

Google continues expanding in Nevada, with the internet search giant receiving $25 million in tax breaks from the state for another $600 million data center now under construction in Hendersonville. As reported by CapacityMedia last week: “In return for the $25 million abatement that Google will receive, the company is set to make a $427 million impact on the economy over 20 years and generate USD $94 million in tax revenue over 20 years. At the beginning of the year, a $1 billion solar farm project was announced to be built directly south of an Indian reservation and will help feed Google’s data center near Las Vegas.” Google is also reportedly planning to build another data center in the Tahoe-Reno Industrial area.

Fines

Battle Rages on Over in-App Billing Rages

As app developers have gone at it of late with Apple and Google over what many feel are unfair demands pertaining to in-app payments, Google is holding its ground. As AndroidCentral noted last week, “A report from Bloomberg … says that Google will now be more strictly enforcing this rule. Developers who are not in compliance will be urged to update their apps to bring them in line.” The story quoted a Google spokesperson who told Bloomberg, “For developers who choose to distribute their apps on Google Play, our policy has always required them to use Play's billing system if they offer in-app purchases of digital goods. We are always working with our partners to clarify these policies and ensure they are applied equitably and reasonably.”

Facebook Faces Facial Biometrics Lawsuit

In a case that’s being closely, quietly observed by the eCommerce and legislative worlds, NBC Chicago reported last week that “following a $650 million settlement in a lawsuit filed against social media giant Facebook, Illinois residents who have accounts with the website can now file claims for payouts potentially ranging from $200 to $400.” NBC added that “thousands of Illinois Facebook users could be eligible for payments as a result of the class-action suit. To be eligible, claimants are required to have lived in Illinois for at least six months, and must be Facebook users for whom the website created and stored a facial recognition template after June 7, 2011.”

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