Google Seizes Global Antitrust Net

A world companies have its perks. There is a lot of money to be made abroad. But most tech companies in the US know that there is also a drawback: Every country where you can make money is a country that can try to keep you down.

It’s hard to keep track of all the tech -related antitrust action that’s happening around the world, in part because it’s not always a cause for much attention. In Europe, which has long been home to the world’s most aggressive regulators, only Google has been hit by a $ 2.7 billion fine in 2017, a $ 5 billion fine in 2018, and a $ 1.7 billion fine in 2019. These amounts will hurt most companies, but not just more than the revolving errors for a reporting corporation. $ 61.9 billion of revenue in the previous quarter.

Still, however, foreign countries violate the fine slap. Instead, they are forcing tech companies to change how they do business. In February, Australia passed a law which entitles news publishers to negotiate payments from the dominant internet platforms – effectively, Facebook and Google. In August, South Korea became first country to pass a law forcing Apple and Google to open their mobile app stores to replace payment systems, threatening to keep them with the 30 percent commission they charge developers. And in a case with a lot of momentum, Google is about to respond to Turkey’s competition authority. ask to stop favoring one’s own properties over local search results.

The consequences of cases like this can be exacerbated even by the borders of the country imposing the new rule, creating natural experiments that can be emulated by regulators in other countries. The fact that Google and Facebook agree on Australia’s media bargaining code, for example, could facilitate similar efforts in other countries, including Taiwan, Canada, and even the US. Luther Lowe, who as senior vice president of public policy at Yelp, has spent more than a decade lobbying for antitrust action against Google, referring to this incident, which he agreed, as a “remedy to the relationship. . “

In other cases, companies that have been forced to change their business model abroad may decide to cope with the shift in the world before they are forced to. After settling an investigation by Japan’s Fair Trade Commission, Apple decided that implement the solution—Allowing audio, video, and reading apps to link to their own websites to accept payment-worldwide.

“Sometimes it’s the market that drives it: Companies decide it’s too expensive to create different compliance strategies in different markets,” said Anu Bradford, a professor of international and antitrust law at Columbia University. “Or, sometimes, it’s in anticipation of copy regulation: They know it’s there, and they can’t wait for the Russians or Turks to make their own case.”

While it doesn’t have the same level of media attention as Australia and South Korea, Turkey’s case could end up being the most deal. Because it breaks the heart of how Google uses its power as the gatekeeper for most internet traffic.

The case is about so -called local search, like when you search for “restaurants near me” or “hardware store.” This is a large category of search traffic—hapit matunga in all Google searches, according to some analysts. Google’s critics and competitors have long complained that Google is unfairly using its dominance to drive local search results on its own offerings, even if that’s not the most helpful outcome. Imagine how, if you search Google for “Chinese restaurant,” the main results page might have a widget called by Google OneBox. This will include the Google Maps section and some Google reviews of Chinese restaurants near you. You’ll need to scroll down to find the top organic results, which can be from Yelp or TripAdvisor.

This dynamic has angered Google’s critics and competitors for many years. One of the troubled competitors, Yelp, highlighted the case in Turkey by pushing a complaint to the country’s competition authority. Google argues that local search results are designed to be most helpful for users, not to pad its own line. But Turkish regulators disagreed, concluding that Google “violated Article 6 of Turkey’s Competition Law by abusing its leading position in the search services market in order to improve local search services. comparing the price of accommodation in a way to differentiate its competitors. ” (I quote a translation given by a Turkish lawyer.) In April they imposed a fine of about $ 36 million. That’s less than what Google gets every two hours, on average, in 2020. But even if the fine is small, the rest of the decision isn’t. The authority issued a preliminary ruling ordering Google to create a way to display local search results that were less in favor of itself than competitors.

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