Regulation

In the UK, (More) Web Content Regulation Looms

Regulations

In the U.K., increased regulation over content delivered online through platforms may be on the horizon.

This past week, Britain’s federal government said its media regulator, known as Ofcom, would be given new oversight to monitor and regulate material posted on the web by companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter. As reported by CNBC, and in a joint statement issued by Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan and Home Secretary Priti Patel, “as the internet continues to grow and transform our lives, it is essential that we get the balance right between a thriving, open and vibrant virtual world, and one in which users are protected from harm.”

Companies that are deemed to be lacking in their efforts to fight dangerous or unlawful content may be subject to penalties – and senior management of these (and other) companies could be held liable for infractions.

WhatsApp Gets Nod in India

In India, after two years of development, the Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp has received regulatory approval for its WhatsApp Pay platform in India.

This week, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) granted Facebook permission to put WhatsApp Pay into operation in a phased manner, The Business Standard reported.

The phased WhatsApp launch is connected to its expansive user base. The company aims to scale up its share of the payments market after the full rollout is complete.

WhatsApp Pay is based on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) standard. The NPCI-developed UPI allows bank account holders to send or receive money without the need to enter their net banking password or user ID.

The WhatsApp messaging service has over 450 million users in India. A beta version of the payments service had been rolled out to approximately one million users in recent months.

FTC’s Expanded Probe Into Big Tech

A bit closer to home, in the States, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has expanded its probe into five of the biggest tech companies operating in the country. The roster includes Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet and Microsoft, and the probe focuses on antitrust issues. The FTC has asked the tech giants to turn over information tied to acquisitions of smaller companies spanning 2010 to 2019.

“Digital technology companies are a big part of the economy and our daily lives,” said FTC Chairman Joseph Simons. “This initiative will enable the Commission to take a closer look at acquisitions in this important sector, and also to evaluate whether the federal agencies are getting adequate notice of transactions that might harm competition. This will help us continue to keep tech markets open and competitive, for the benefit of consumers.” The documents and answers to specific queries would seek to determine whether the quintet of Big Tech companies had used, and might be using, the acquisitions to unfairly compete with rivals.

The latest moves follow an announcement in 2019 that the FTC was creating a task force to look into potential antitrust violations. And, as has been reported, it’s possible that the FTC may examine breaking up companies found to have been engaging in anticompetitive behavior.

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