Google is getting caught up in the global antitrust net

Being global The company has the advantage of having to make a lot of money abroad. But the biggest U.S. technology companies are finding that it also has a downside: Every country where you make money is a country that can try to control you.

It’s hard to keep track of all the technology-related distrust actions that happen around the world, because it doesn’t always seem like paying close attention. In Europe, which has long been home to some of the world’s most aggressive regulators, Google alone was fined 2. 2.7 billion in 2017, 5 5 billion in 2018 and 7 1.7 billion in 2019. , But these are slightly more than the rounds of errors for a corporation that earned $ 61.9 billion in the last quarter.

Increasingly, however, foreign countries are surpassing slap-wrist fines. Instead, they are forcing technology companies to change the way they do business. In February, Australia passed a law giving news publishers the right to negotiate for effective payments from influential Internet platforms – Facebook and Google. In August, South Korea became the first country to pass a law that forced Apple and Google to open their mobile app stores to alternative payment systems, threatening to take over the 30 percent commission they charge developers. And in the event of a potentially huge impact, Google will soon have to respond to the Turkish competing authority’s claim that local search results have turned off its own property optimization.

The consequences of such lawsuits could impose new rules across the country’s borders, creating natural tests that regulators in other countries could emulate. Google and Facebook, for example, have adapted the Australian media bargaining code, which could accelerate similar efforts in other countries, including Taiwan, Canada and even the United States. Luther Lowe, who has been lobbying for more than a decade as a senior vice president of public policy at Yelp for the no-confidence motion against Google, endorsed the incident, referring to it as a “remedy creep.”

In other cases, companies that are being forced to change their business models abroad may decide to take a global shift before being forced to do so. Following an investigation by Japan’s Fair Trade Commission, Apple has decided to implement the solution by allowing audio, video and reading apps to be linked to their own websites for global payments.

“Sometimes it drives the market: companies decide that it’s too expensive to create different compliance strategies in different markets,” said Anu Bradford, a professor of international and no-confidence law at Columbia University. “Or, sometimes, it’s in anticipation of Copicat control: they know it’s there, and they’re not waiting for the Russians or the Turks to sue on their own.”

While it has not come to the same level of media attention as Australia and South Korea, it could be the biggest deal in the case of Turkey. Because that’s how Google cuts to the heart of how it uses its power as a gatekeeper for most internet traffic.

The case is known as local search, as when you search for “restaurant near me” or “hardware store”. This is a huge category of search traffic, about half of all Google searches, according to some analysts. Critics and rivals of Google have long complained that Google unfairly uses local dominance to bring local search results to its own offers, even when it may not be the most helpful. If you do a Google search for “Chinese restaurant”, think about how there will be a widget at the top of the results page that calls Google Onebox. This will include a Google Maps section and a few Google reviews of Chinese restaurants near you. You need to scroll down to find the top organic results that could be Yelp or Trip Advisor.

Google has disappointed critics and competitors over these dynamic years. One of the disgruntled contestants, Yelp, filed the complaint with the country’s competition authority and initiated the case in Turkey. Google argues that its local search results are designed to be most helpful to users, not to pad its own bottom line. But Turkish regulators disagreed, concluding that Google had “violated Section 6 of the Turkish Competition Act by abusing its dominant position in the general search services market to promote local search and real estate price comparison services to exclude its local competitors.” (I’m quoting a translation by a Turkish lawyer.) In April, they were fined nearly million 1 million. In 2020, Google averaged less than what it earned every two hours. But while the fines were trivial, the rest of the decision was not made.

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