Big Tech Compliance Tracker: Italy Hits Facebook With $8.5 Million Fine; Google To Pay $1.3 Million Fine Over Hotel Rankings

Big Tech Compliance Tracker: Italy Hits Facebook With $8.5-Million Fine; Google To Pay $1.3-Million Fine Over Hotel Rankings

Here’s the latest news from the technology industry, which is coming under increasing global scrutiny from governments around the world.

France Wants Member States To Have Greater Power In Upcoming EU Tech Legislation 

France is seeking to have future European Union Big Tech rules let member states use additional power to penalize negative behavior and regulate a greater variety of information, the Financial Times reported. Leaders in the country aim to see modifications to the Digital Services Act — legislation that describes the responsibilities of Big Tech in terms of governing the internet.

“We are getting pretty active in terms of talking to various people about the upcoming tech regulation. Getting these laws passed is a major objective of ours for when France next holds the rotating presidency of the EU Council next year,” Cedric O, French minister for the digital economy, said to the Financial Times.  

Italy’s Competition Watchdog Fines Facebook Approximately $8.5 Million

Italy’s competition watchdog has issued a €7 million (roughly $8.5 million) penalty to Facebook for allegedly not following a prior order connected to the way in which it communicates with users regarding the business uses of their information, according to a published report.

“We note the Italian Competition Authority’s announcement today, but we await the Council of State decision on our appeal against the Authority’s initial findings,” a Facebook representative said, according to the published report.

Google To Pay $1.3 Million Fine Over Allegedly ‘Misleading’ Lodging Rankings 

After regulatory watchdogs in France determined that its search engines displayed purportedly “misleading” standings for French lodging, Google will pay a $1.3 million penalty, the Daily News reported. The Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and the Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF) indicated that the standings had the official Atout France system’s format, but they harnessed an algorithm that was purportedly unique to the tech company.

Google consented to payment of the financial penalty while noting that it has completed the “necessary changes to only reflect the official French star rating for hotels on Google Maps and Search,” according to the Daily News report. The DGCCRF started a probe in 2019 that looked into the standings of 7,500 businesses on the heels of getting grievances from hotel firms regarding the tech company’s rankings.

Congress To Introduce Legislation To Help News Organizations Negotiate With Big Tech

Congressional members from both sides of the aisle intend to introduce a bill in the weeks to come to make it easier for less sizable news organizations to negotiate with large technology platforms, Reuters reported. Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colorado), the leading Republican on the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, told the newswire that the panel would roll out a collection of antitrust bills. The inaugural one would let less sizable news organizations negotiate as one with Google and Facebook.

Global Smartphone Sales Drop 5.4 Pct, But Apple Became Top Smartphone Vendor In Q4

Global sales of smartphones fell 5.4 percent between the fourth quarter of 2020 from the fourth quarter of 2019, according to a Gartner Inc. press release on Monday (Feb. 22). Apple’s rollout of the 5G 12 series of iPhones helped the company attain double-digit growth at that time, providing it with the lead over Samsung for worldwide sales. The last time Apple was in the leading spot for smartphone sales was in the fourth quarter of 2016.