The world’s tech giants have had a dark year as the US, Europe and China take steps to curb their power.
Dozens of US states and federal governments have sued Facebook and Google for engaging in anti-competitive behavior, strengthening their power in the online marketplace. Meanwhile, Europe recently introduced laws, giving the authorities greater power to manage US technology firms.
This trend has also spread to Asia. Last week, the Chinese official announced Jack Ma’s antitrust investigation into Alibaba, placing a request against Ant Group after blocking the company’s historic IPO at the last minute.
Although progress has become more urgent in recent weeks, Big Tech’s intention to restrain Big Tech is nothing new. In recent years, governments have witnessed the growing influence these companies have on the Internet economy and the flow of valuable digital information. However, huge fines, data protection laws, hearings … are not enough to adjust. Politicians are now signaling they want to do more to prevent market abuse, the explosion of malicious content and fake news.
The global advancement in computing, data storage and electronic connectivity has dramatically increased the size of major tech firms, said Dipayan Ghosh, co-director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Democracy and Digital Platform Project. Today, some of these firms continue to develop sophisticated artificial intelligence systems, giving them unprecedented control over content, advertising and personal data.
Flood of lawsuits in America
The US administration has been watching Big Tech for a long time and has begun to materialize it by action. In October, Google was sued after a year-long antitrust investigation. Dozens of states sued Google for conducting monopolistic practices in the online search market and search advertising. Facebook was also treated similarly and faced two other antitrust lawsuits aimed at the electronics market.
Although the US efforts are directed towards antitrust, it comes amid greater questioning of technology firms’ impact on democracy and online information flows. They are the “front line” worries when it comes to the 2020 US election.
It is difficult to predict the outcome of the above lawsuits. Some argue that the US government is trying to overturn Facebook’s past acquisitions. Analysts point out that the US may not be ready to impose other measures, such as new regulations, on the technology industry. That’s because the United States will lose access to information flows in other parts of the world, given the power of Silicon Valley giants in Europe and elsewhere.
Balance reversal in Europe
In Europe, the authorities focus on “holding back” technology companies. The EU’s General Data Protection Law (GDPR) was enacted in 2018, giving people more control over their data collection and use.
This year, Europe signals it will be even stricter. The European Commission announced a draft new policy in early December, giving brand new powers to crack down on American tech giants, threatening huge fines and setting the prospect of breaking or banning doors. continuous violation.
He also has his own plan. Accordingly, companies that do not remove or restrict the spread of legal content will be fined up to 10% of annual revenue. According to Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden, we are entering a new era of technology to protect vulnerable children and users to restore trust in the industry.
Although Europe has consensus on some actions, they are limited in terms of options. After all, the tech firms operating here are based in the US.
Maintain control in China
Beijing does not miss the race to control technology, although it follows a different route than Western countries. Senior state leaders see antitrust as the big problem of 2021.
It is not clear how far China’s campaign will go, but the country will likely focus on issues such as consumer protection among other areas. That happened last week when the market regulator summoned representatives from Alibaba, Tencent, JD.com and major Internet firms, warning them against monopolizing, misuse of user data. for profit. Alibaba is also under investigation for monopoly allegations.
The Chinese government has many tools at hand, alongside traditional competition laws, if it wants to maintain control of technology firms. Jack Ma’s financial firm Ant Group, for example, had to cancel its IPO at the last minute after Ma met with government officials and stood before an overhaul. Before that, Mr. Ma openly criticized the local authorities for obstructing competition.
Du Lam (According to CNN)
China investigates Alibaba: Lessons for Jack Ma and the tech ‘bad boys’
In the eyes of Chinese regulators and authorities, correcting behavior and pointing the right path for technology firms is equally important.