Regulation

Big Tech Compliance Tracker: Google Faces Questions Over Digital Ads; Australian Watchdog Says Facebook’s Proposed Ban On News Sharing Would Be Its Loss

Here’s the latest news from Google and Facebook others, which are coming under increasing scrutiny from regulatory watchdogs, trade organizations and politicians globally.

Regulations 

EU Regulators Plan New Rules For Big Tech 

European Union watchdogs intend to gear new regulations aimed at fighting election-related disinformation toward Big Tech firms such as Apple and Facebook as opposed to smaller tech players.

European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said the new European Democracy Action Plan aims to fight online disinformation that could influence elections in EU countries.

While Big Techs have argued that the new rules shouldn’t single them out for greater enforcement, Jourova said large firms have “more responsibility" to address the problem, according to the Financial Times 

India Telecom Watchdog Decides To Not Regulate OTTs 

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) has decided not to put over-the-top (OTT) companies like WhatsApp, Facebook and Viber under a regulatory umbrella, leaving their operations up to market forces instead, the Financial Express reported.

The agency said problems related to OTT services’ safety and privacy don’t require regulatory oversight.

Taxes 

EU Undecided Whether To Appeal Ruling Upholding Apple’s Irish Tax Breaks 

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the bloc will wait to decide whether to contest a July court decision denying her determination that Apple took €13.1 billion (roughly $15.4 million) of illegal Irish government aid, The Irish Times reported.

“We haven’t taken that decision yet,” Vestager said, as per The Irish Times. “As the commission always [does], we wait until we are closer to the deadline of the appeal question, and then of course I’ll be happy to come back to that.”

Legal observers think the commission won’t challenge the ruling given that the court strongly rejected the EU’s contentions.

Spain Could Classify Big Techs As Telecom Providers 

Spain is proposing a new tech-company taxation plan that could categorize companies like Alphabet and Facebook as telecom firms, RT reported.

Telecommunication Secretary Roberto Sanchez unveiled legislation that would make every firm that offers telecom services register as a telecom operator regardless of whether they offer phone numbers or not.

If the measure passes, Big Tech firms would have to pay €1 (approximately $1.17) for each €1,000 (roughly $1,175) in gross revenue if they make more than €1 million ($1.2 million) in annual operating income in Spain.

EU Will Implement Digital Tax Next Year Unless Global Rules Pass 

The European Union will propose a digital tax in early 2021 if governments don’t reach a worldwide consensus on such taxes for the online era, EU President Ursula von der Leyen said recently.

“We will spare no effort to reach agreement in the framework of OECD and G20,” she said. “But let there be no doubt: should an agreement fall short of a fair tax system that provides long-term sustainable revenues, Europe will come forward with a proposal early next year.”

Von der Leyen also said the EU will earmark €150 billion (approximately $176 billion) from a COVID-19 support fund toward online investments.

Fines 

India’s Green Tribunal Tells Pollution Board To Collect Penalties From Amazon, Flipkart 

India’s National Green Tribunal has told the country’s Central Pollution Control Board to run an ecological audit and collect penalties from Amazon and Flipkart for too much plastic packaging, The Logical Indian reported. 

The tribunal, an Indian government body that reviews environmental matters, said the country’s regulators weren't taking steps such as adopting a “polluter pays” concept with respect to Amazon and Flipkart.

News  

U.S. Senate Subcommittee Grills Google Over Digital-Ad Business 

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on antitrust issues questioned a Google official recently regarding the search giant’s preeminence in the online-advertising space.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) asked Donald Harrison, Google’s mergers-and-acquisitions leader, to detail how the firm harnesses data from search, Gmail and other offerings to help its advertising operations.

“Any discussion of online advertising would be incomplete without mentioning the importance of advertising in supporting a free and open Internet,” Harrison said, as per The Washington Post.

Australian Watchdog: It’d Be Bad For Democracy If Facebook Stops Users From Sharing News 

Australia’s leading antitrust regulator said Facebook will hurt itself if it decided to prevent Australians from sharing news items on the social-media app just so the firm can avoid proposed new payments to news publishers, Reuters reported.

Facebook has recently indicated it will prevent Australians from sharing local and global news in the event the proposed payments become law.

“It would be a shame for Australian democracy [and] it would be a shame for Facebook users if they took that course of action,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said in a recent speech delivered via Zoom. “It would also weaken Facebook, [but] it’s their call.”

Australia has proposed making Facebook and Google pay media firms for news — a concept that has garnered formidable opposition from U.S. Big Techs.

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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.

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