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charlesarthur : europe   43

The US, China, and case 311/18 on Standard Contractual Clauses • European Law Blog
Peter Swire:
<p>In the aftermath of the 2015 case [on Facebook transferring data to the US, which found against Facebook and invalidated those transfers], most companies that transfer data from the EU were left to rely on contract standards promulgated by the European Commission, called Standard Contractual Clauses (SCC).  The SCCs set strict requirements for handling personal data by the company that transfers the data.

The legality of SCCs is now before the CJEU, with a similar challenge to Privacy Shield awaiting the outcome of the first case.

A CJEU decision that invalidates SCCs would result in the prohibition of most transfers of personal data from the EU to the US. The case primarily concerns the quality of legal safeguards in the United States for government surveillance, especially by the NSA. (Note – I was selected to provide independent expert testimony on US law by Facebook; under Irish law, I was prohibited from contact with Facebook while serving as an expert, and I have played no further role in the litigation.)

A decision invalidating SCCs, however, would pose a terrible dilemma to EU courts and decisionmakers.

At a minimum, the CJEU might “merely” prohibit data flows to the US due to a finding of lack of sufficient safeguards, notably an insufficient remedy for an EU data subject who makes a subject access request to the NSA. The EU on this approach would continue to authorize the transfer of personal data to countries not directly covered by the Court decision, such as, for example, China.  This approach would be completely unjustified: it would prohibit transfers of data to the US, which has numerous legal safeguards characteristic of a state under the rule of law, while allowing such transfers toward China, where the protection of personal data vis-à-vis the government is essentially non-existent.</p>
data  privacy  europe  china 
4 weeks ago by charlesarthur
US says Europeans coming around on threat posed by Huawei • Bloomberg
Nick Wadhams:
<p>The US has strong indications that European nations are coming around to the severity of the threat posed by China’s Huawei Technologies and the dangers of incorporating its equipment into their coming 5G networks, according to an administration official.

The official said that while European nations probably won’t impose an outright legal ban on Huawei, the US anticipates that many nations will effectively bar the company’s equipment from their next-generation telecom networks. The official asked not to be identified discussing private discussions.

Such moves would represent a victory for the Trump administration, which has warned against the use of Huawei in 5G systems and has opened its own campaign to blacklist the company and limit its access to American suppliers over security concerns. The official declined to name specific countries prepared to change their position.

In April, Bloomberg News reported that the UK is set to toughen the rules under which Huawei operates there, while stopping short of an outright ban.</p>
huawei  europe  5g 
12 weeks ago by charlesarthur
The US measles outbreak is a reminder of the power of viral information • Financial Times
Marietje Schaake:
<p>A tweet that has 500 likes looks more popular than a post that harvests three thumbs up. People have come to trust the wisdom of the crowd, or the top results in a search, whether on the subject of heart disease or crimes committed by immigrants. On platforms like YouTube and Google search, whether information is sent up or down the rankings is, at least in part, determined by how many people click on and share it.

Knowing whether such reactions come from real people or are auto-generated is crucial. Bots can be distinguished from people through pattern recognition: an account that sends a message exactly every 30 seconds during 72 hours is unlikely to be from a person typing and swiping.

Transparency rules should require platforms to make clear when bots are involved and the sources of advertising. Knowing who is paying to amplify and spread medical hoax messages is as important as knowing the sources of political ads. With more information, we may better understand the links between the anti-vaccination movement and politicians including Marine Le Pen in France, Beppe Grillo in Italy and Donald Trump in the US, who have all questioned the medical, as well as political, establishments.

The recent measles outbreaks remind us that our understanding of the toxic impact of algorithms on people’s actions is proven, and that ad hoc protection measures are not enough.</p>

Schaake is an MEP - so this is the sort of thing that could become law. What if it's law in Europe and not in the US?
algorithm  law  europe 
april 2019 by charlesarthur
How the UK lost the Brexit battle • POLITICO
Tom McTague:
<p>Had [Downing Street] been prepared for Brexit on June 24, 2016, the negotiations might have played out differently.

“The British government should have offered something very, very quickly,” said one high-ranking official of a large EU country. “If the UK had said: ‘Here’s the plan,’ we might have accepted it.”

“The British strength was being one member state, being able to define its national interest quickly and making its move quickly,” the official said. “It did not do that.”

Instead, in the aftermath of the referendum, Cameron resigned as prime minister; Labour MPs attempted to oust their party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn; Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, vowed to hold a second independence referendum; and Martin McGuinness, then deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, called for a vote on whether the British territory should leave the UK and become part of the Republic of Ireland.

The seeds of the crisis Britain faced today were planted by Cameron, said Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan. “He called the referendum too early, ran a crappy campaign and then walked out, leaving a vacuum.”

“It is a crisis caused by bad decisions on top of bad decisions, turning a short-term gambit into a long-term catastrophe,” he added. “You can trace the whole thing back to the start. The crash was always coming.”

…One adviser on European affairs to a prominent EU27 leader said Dublin had begun lobbying other EU countries in the months before the referendum to ensure Ireland was protected in the event of decision by the UK to leave…

Northern Irish peer Paul Bew, one of the chief architects of the Good Friday Agreement, said Dublin’s preparation was typical of the Irish in their long history of negotiations with Britain. “They are on top of the detail, and we [the British] are incurious. The people at the top of the UK government are also paralyzed by imperial guilt.”

The contrast with London was stark. While Cameron refused to allow officials to prepare for a Leave vote — barring officials from putting anything on paper — Ireland had produced a 130-page Contingency Plan with an hour-by-hour checklist.</p>

Excellent in-depth piece which shows how many times the UK got this wrong - ie pretty much at every turn. So much for the EU being a sclerotic organisation that can't tie its shoelaces.
europe  brexit  politics  history 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
European commissioner for competition Margethe Vestager interviewed on Kara Swisher podcast • Recode
Vestager, answering Swisher about the effect of the big tech companies on society:
<p>we have seen interference in national elections, referendas. We have seen a lot of data breaches. We have seen a lot of an economy that is shifting quite a lot into a use of data that is unprecedented. We are in the middle of a revolution, a technological industrial revolution. And I think as societies we have quite a lot of catching up to do to get in control.

Just as we had back in the days where we had sort of the Industrial Revolution of chemistry, when pesticides and all of that became, you know, the big guy in town, people thought that you could do amazing things. Just spraying everything, adding everything to products. It took some time before we realized that we have to get in control because otherwise it would be damaging for our ability to reproduce, for clean drinking water, all of that.

Now [we are] to the very last degree in control of that, and I think we want to do the same thing. In my own home country, we had a lot of discussions about chemicals in feeding bottles. Huge discussions. If you’d say, “I’ve never ever have my baby have a feeding bottle,” but you have no second thoughts of giving them an iPad.</p>

Plenty to chew on in the full interview. Vestager will leave office in November; be interesting to see if her replacement has the same sort of feel for trustbusting, or will be relatively ineffectual on this as her predecessor, Joaquin Almunia, was.
vestager  antitrust  europe 
march 2019 by charlesarthur
Chinese smartphone vendors take a record 32% market share in Europe in 2018 • Canalys
<p>Canalys estimates show that European smartphone shipments fell 4% in 2018 to 197m units. In Q4 2018, shipments fell 2% to 57m, though Chinese vendors gained significantly. Samsung remained the largest vendor in 2018 but its shipments were down over 10% at 61.6m units. Apple was down 6% but clung onto second place with 42.8m units shipped. Huawei was the stand-out vendor, growing 54% with 42.5m shipments. Relative newcomers Xiaomi and HMD Global grew strongly and were fourth and fifth respectively.

<img src="" width="100%" />

"The US administration is causing Chinese companies to invest in Europe over the US. The European market is mature, and replacement rates have lengthened, but there is an opportunity for Chinese brands to displace the market incumbents. The likes of Huawei and Xiaomi bring price competition that has stunned their rivals as they use their size against the smaller brands in Europe."

Western European smartphone shipments fell 8%, the biggest decline of the sub-regions, to 128m units in 2018, the lowest level since 2013. An increase in average selling prices, caused by an uplift in flagship pricing by Apple, Samsung and Huawei, offset some of the declines.</p>

China, Europe, the US: all shrinking.
smartphone  europe  china 
february 2019 by charlesarthur
Huawei and Xiaomi near 34m customers in western Europe • Kantar World Panel
<p>Dominic Sunnebo, Global Director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech comments: “The European smartphone market remains highly competitive. Despite recent negative headlines for the Chinese manufacturers, there’s no evidence that these issues have affected sales as Huawei, Honor and Xiaomi continue their concerted push into western Europe.

"Samsung and Apple still performed admirably, with disruption limited to only a marginal loss of market share.”

Xiaomi is now the fourth best-selling smartphone brand in Europe, with nearly six million active owners. The manufacturer is continuing to expand rapidly in Spain and, more recently, in Italy and France as well. Sunnebo comments: “Having only launched in the UK in November last year, Xiaomi’s presence in Great Britain is still small, but with new products already going on sale in January we expect further growth in 2019. The Chinese manufacturer has found success so far with a competitive pricing strategy which places its most expensive flagship model at around £500. This appeals to users who are looking for premium quality but are not willing or able to splash out the best part of a four-figure sum.”

“While Samsung and Apple are still doing well in Europe, the impact these Chinese giants are having on the market is causing headaches for the smaller operators. Sony, LG and Wiko are being disproportionally impacted because of their historic stakes in the ultra-competitive low and mid-price tiers. To keep up in this landscape, these brands should take heed from their competitors when it comes to marketing…"</p>

I think LG and Sony aren't going to compete in this field much longer. There simply isn't any profit in it for them.
Europe  smartphone 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
The paranoid fantasy behind Brexit • The Guardian
Fintan O'Toole:
<p> In the imperial imagination, there are only two states: dominant and submissive, coloniser and colonised. This dualism lingers. If England is not an imperial power, it must be the only other thing it can be: a colony. And, as [Len] Deighton successfully demonstrated [in his book SS-GB], this logic can be founded in an alternative English history. The moment of greatest triumph – the defeat of the Nazis – can be reimagined as the moment of greatest humiliation – defeat by the Nazis. The pain of colonisation and defeat can, in the context of uneasy membership of the EU, be imaginatively appropriated. (Boris Johnson, in the Telegraph of 12 November, claimed that “we are on the verge of signing up for something even worse than the current constitutional position. These are the terms that might be enforced on a colony.”)

SS-GB was in part the inspiration for an even more successful English thriller, Robert Harris’s multimillion-selling Fatherland, published in 1992 and filmed for television in 1994. Harris had begun the novel in the mid-1980s but abandoned it. He revived and finished it explicitly in the context of German reunification in 1990 and of fears that the enemy Britain had defeated twice in the 20th century would end the century by dominating it: “If,” Harris wrote in the introduction to the 20th anniversary edition in 2012, “there was one factor that suddenly gave my fantasy of a united Germany a harder edge, it was the news that exactly such an entity was unexpectedly returning to the heart of Europe.”

…Europe’s role in this weird psychodrama is entirely pre-scripted. It does not greatly matter what the European Union is or what it is doing – its function in the plot is to be a more insidious form of nazism. This is important to grasp, because one of the key arguments in mainstream pro-Brexit political and journalistic discourse would be that Britain had to leave because the Europe it had joined was not the Europe it found itself part of in 2016.</p>

This is a big week for Brexit, of whatever flavour (hard, soft, revoked) in the UK. This piece is a good backgrounder to the enmity behind one side.
europe  brexit  history 
january 2019 by charlesarthur
Google rivals claim product search remains unfair • BBC News
<p>Google is not complying with European demands that it make the search for products fairer, rivals say.

In <a href="">an open letter to the EU's competition commissioner</a>, 14 European shopping comparison services said the measures put in place by the search giant to improve things, actually make matters worse.

They urged the commission to demand a new remedy.

Google said it had complied with the European Commission demands.

The search giant has faced a seven-year long battle with the European Commission over its dominance in the search market.

In June 2017, European competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager ruled that Google had abused its power by promoting its own shopping service at the top of search results, and demanded that it provide equal treatment to rival comparison sites in future.

She issued a record fine of €2.42bn ($2.7bn; £2.1bn) - the largest penalty the European Commission has ever imposed. She also demanded that Google end its anti-competitive practices within 90 days or face further costs.

Google is still appealing against the fine, but has come up with a system that it says makes shopping fairer.

It changed the shopping box, which is displayed at the top of search results, so that it is no longer populated with just Google Shopping ad results, but gives space to other shopping comparison services, who can bid for advertising slots.</p>

The Google "solution" is unsatisfactory in so many ways, as the letter sets out. Its market dominance in Europe shuts out others; this "solution" just lets it charge them a door fee to reach people, instead of competing equally.
Google  shopping  europe 
november 2018 by charlesarthur
Macron push to drop CIA code quickens as Trump calls EU foe
Helen Fouquet, Marie Mawad and Ania Nussbaum:
<p>Just weeks after Emmanuel Macron took office last year, his team went over the French state’s most sensitive activities. What it found provided a wake-up call.

The team learned that the country’s intelligence agency -- which, among other things, tracks French citizens for homegrown terrorism or anarchist activities -- uses software from a CIA-backed startup. Its code is provided by Palantir Technologies Inc., a data-mining company that started out working for the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.

The use of U.S. technology deep inside the French state isn’t unusual, but for the tech-savvy team of the 40-year-old president, it was a sign that the country needs to make technological independence a top priority -- a sentiment that’s become even more urgent after President Donald Trump called the European Union a “foe.”

“No French company was able to provide the work,” Laurent Nunez, the new chief of France’s domestic intelligence agency, told Bloomberg News in July on the sidelines of a conference to present a new anti-terrorism system. “Now we are working to foster a French or European offering. We’re looking toward an objective of launching a tool for all intelligence agencies. And many companies have stepped in.”

The push to find local solutions for mission-critical or sensitive operations is yet another departure from the assumption that the US and its technology would remain a constant ally to Europe.</p>

In a roundabout and painful way, Trump might actually be a help for European technology companies.
trump  europe  technology 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Germany still aims for 'fair taxation' of internet companies, says German Finance Ministry • Reuters
Michael Nienaber and Tom Körkemeier:
<p>Germany has long been cool on proposals from the European Commission which would make firms with significant digital revenues in Europe pay a 3% tax on their turnover on various online services in the European Union. That would bring in an estimated 5bn euros ($5.78bn).

The Bild report said finance ministry officials recommended that profits should continue to be taxed only where a company’s headquarters are based. All other options would bring disadvantages to Germany’s export-oriented industry, it said.

The finance ministry spokesman said the newspaper had “very selectively” cited from an internal document in which officials had simply summarized various models and proposals.

“Such reports are common practice to inform the head of the ministry,” the spokesman said, adding that Scholz was still weighing his options.

Scholz remains convinced that large digital companies must make a “fair contribution” to the financing of public goods, in particular by preventing them from avoiding taxation by shifting profits and through tax optimization, the spokesman said.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called on Scholz and other European counterparts to make a decision soon.

“We need to have decided on this matter by January 2019,” Le Maire told television broadcaster LCI, adding politicians would be judged on their actions in next May’s European elections.</p>

Probably not many votes in not levying taxes on them, so you can imagine it's just a question of figuring out how.
google  tax  europe 
september 2018 by charlesarthur
Apple and Huawei flex their strength in a declining tablet market • IDC
<p>According to the latest figures published by International Data Corporation (IDC), the overall tablet market for Western Europe declined 10.1% YoY, shipping 6.3 million units in the second quarter of 2018 (2Q18).

Slates exhibited a degree of resilience in the commercial space, following strength in certain niche use-case deployments. However, market saturation, lengthening life cycles and a lack of innovation resulted in the ongoing sluggish demand on the consumer side, leading to an overall decline of 6.1% YoY. In terms of volume, detachables had a challenging quarter, declining by 23.3% YoY. As the market has become increasingly dominated by Apple and Microsoft, and consequently more premium-focused, the range of options available to more price-constrained customers has diminished, leading them to consider cheaper alternatives such as lower end convertibles or even traditional PCs. Furthermore, the announcement of upcoming product releases from the main players likely acted as an inhibiting factor on overall demand this quarter, as customers postponed their purchases in anticipation of these newer devices.</p>

Samsung hangs on there in second place, but it's down more than the market, while Huawei roared up into third place. It's only selling a third as many as Samsung (and a quarter as many as Apple), but it's definitely pushing hard.

Apple had a 30% share. And probably a 90% share of the profits. (To reiterate, these are the western Europe figures.)
apple  tablet  idc  europe 
august 2018 by charlesarthur
Smartphone shipments fall 6.3% in Europe in Q1 2018 • Canalys
<p>Smartphone fatigue hit Europe in Q1 2018, as shipments fell 6.3% year on year, the biggest ever drop in a single quarter. Western Europe bore the brunt, down 13.9% with 30.1m units shipped. Central and Eastern Europe, though a smaller market, remained a growth region, up 12.3% at 15.9m units, driven by a buoyant Russia.

“This is a new era for smartphones in Europe,” said Ben Stanton, Analyst at Canalys. “The few remaining growth markets are not enough to offset the saturated ones. We are moving from a growth era to a cyclical era. This presents a brand-new challenge to the incumbents, and we expect several smaller brands to leave the market in the coming years.”

<img src="" width="100%" />

Adapting to new market dynamics, the top three vendors all had starkly different results:

• Samsung remained on top, shipping over 15m smartphones, but slipped 15% compared with last year as Huawei and Xiaomi put pressure on its low-end and mid-range models. But the high price of the Galaxy S9, as well as its earlier launch in the calendar year than the Galaxy S8, prompted a drastic rise in its ASP over the previous year, and helped Samsung boost its shipment value by over 20%.

• Apple outperformed the market and shipped over 10m units, but this still represented a 5.4% decline. As a percentage of models shipped, the iPhone X declined slightly from Q4, to around 25%, but it remained comfortably the best-shipping smartphone in the region. Apple’s larger portfolio strategy will become more important as the year progresses, with over 25% of its Q1 shipments the iPhone SE, 6 and 6S – models that are over two years old. This wider spread of shipments did, however, offset the value growth driven by the pricier iPhone X.

• Huawei bucked the trend, growing 38.6% and shipping 7.4m units. It shipped over 1m of its new P Smart in its first full quarter. But the delay to its flagship P20, versus last year’s P10, meant that very few of its Q1 shipments were premium models. Despite its large volume growth, it only managed to boost its shipment value by 1.7% over the previous year. But it will be confident of a rise in ASP as the P20 truly comes into play in Q2.</p>

That fall in the UK is pretty dramatic - down by a third. That's saturation at work. And the fifth-biggest supplier might surprise you.
smartphone  europe 
may 2018 by charlesarthur to close to EU users saying it can’t comply with GDPR • TechCrunch
Natasha Lomas:
<p>Put on your best unsurprised face:, a company that has, for years, used the premise of ‘free’ but not very useful ’email management’ services to gain access to people’s email inboxes in order to data-mine the contents for competitive intelligence — and <a href="">controversially</a> flog the gleaned commercial insights to the likes of Uber — is to stop serving users in Europe ahead of a new data protection enforcement regime incoming under GDPR, which applies from May 25.

In a section on its website about the regional service shutdown, the company writes that “unfortunately we can no longer support users from the EU as of the 23rd of May”, before asking whether a visitor lives in the EU or not.

Clicking ‘no’ doesn’t seem to do anything but clicking ‘yes’ brings up another info screen where writes that this is its “last month in the EU” — because it says it will be unable to comply with “all GDPR requirements” (although it does not specify which portions of the regulation it cannot comply with).</p>

Don't expect this to be the end. The adtech swamp is getting drained.
gdpr  unroll  europe 
may 2018 by charlesarthur
Tougher smartphone market in EMEA in 2017 sees emerging markets slow but Apple gains •IDC
<p>The EMEA [Europe, Mid-East, Africa] mobile phone market saw smartphone volumes fall for a second year in 2017, while there was a relative boom in shipments of lowly feature phones, a reversal of the previous trend.
Smartphone volumes were down modestly at 361m, against 374m in 2016. Feature phone shipments rose by 8.7% to 206m. Smartphone market value was marginally lower in dollar terms at $109bn, though the drop was more pronounced in euros, at €96bn, against €101bn in 2016.

"Looking at the European market of the European Union, Norway, and Switzerland, consumers are spending more money on phones even as they buy them less frequently. This is true of countries in both Western and Central Europe," said Simon Baker, program director of mobile phone research in IDC CEMA. In a year when the European economy showed shoots of recovery, and the euro rose against the dollar, the drop underlined the pressures as the smartphone business matures.

Apple managed to stand out in a difficult market, commented Susana Santos, senior research analyst at IDC Western Europe. The premium iPhone X was only launched in November but added some $4.3bn to Apple sales in the European market across the year, over a sixth of the annual Apple total. Sales in the more affluent Western European countries were overall flat, though Germany stood out, but overall in EMEA the shipment value of Apple iPhones rose to 37.5% of total smartphone value, on sales of 57m iPhones across the year, up from 34.2% of the market value and 54.8m iPhones in 2016.

The competition to Samsung from Huawei helped to revitalize the top end of the Android market, and in Europe sales of Android phones above $700 (€619 in 2017) were up by a fifth from 2016. But there was a trend to keep older premium models in production at lower prices to keep volumes buoyant as consumers looked for better value in their phone purchases. Samsung continued to dominate Android sales in EMEA and in 2017 held on to a two-fifth share, while Huawei's challenge slowed, with the Android share only slightly above that of the previous year at 13.4%. </p>

Stagnation; and yet within that, Apple increases sales. The same as we've seen in the personal computer market.
smartphone  europe 
april 2018 by charlesarthur
EU buried its own $400,000 study showing unauthorized downloads have almost no effect on sales • Techdirt
Glyn Moody:
<p>The <a href="">304-page document</a> (pdf), made available on the site, contains all the details of the questions that were put to a total of 30,000 people from Germany, France, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, their answers, and exhaustive analysis. The summary reveals the key results:
<p>In 2014, on average 51% of the adults and 72% of the minors in the EU have illegally downloaded or streamed any form of creative content, with higher piracy rates in Poland and Spain than in the other four countries of this study. In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect. An exception is the displacement of recent top films. The results show a displacement rate of 40% which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally.</p>

That is, there is zero evidence that unauthorized downloads harmed sales of music, books and games. Indeed, for games, there was evidence that such downloads boosted sales…</p>

So it clearly shows that there <em>is</em> an effect on films, and there might be one for all the others (though not games). High prices were essentially to blame: where prices aren't high, piracy recedes.
europe  piracy  copyright  business 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Google offers to auction off shopping ad spaces to rivals • WSJ
Natalia Drozdiak:
<p>Google has proposed overhauling its shopping search results so that rivals can bid for space to display products for sale, as part of the tech giant’s efforts to comply with the European Union’s antitrust order, according to people familiar with the matter.

Under the proposal, Google would bid against rivals to display products for sale in the space above its general search results, according to the people. Google would set itself a price cap that it wouldn’t be able to bid above, but competitors could do so if they wished.

Rival shopping sites have hit back, saying an auction-based remedy wouldn’t assuage the EU regulator’s demands that the company treat its competitors’ offerings and its own shopping service equally.

The European Commission ordered Google to make the changes to its search results by late September as part of its decision to fine Google a record €2.42bn ($2.89bn) in June for discriminating against rival comparison-shopping sites in its search ranking…

…“While we have yet to see details of Google’s proposal, it seems unlikely that Google could have devised an auction-based remedy that does not fall far short of the equal treatment standard stipulated by the [commission’s] decision,” said Shivaun Raff, chief executive of, a comparison-shopping website that was the first company to file a formal antitrust complaint about Google to the EU.

The auction-based remedy could force Google’s competitors to bid away the majority of their profits to Google, Ms. Raff said. Google could set a high price cap for its own bids, pushing the bids of competitors higher.</p>

As the story points out, this is essentially the same failed proposal Google made a few years ago with the previous competition commissioner, and it's just as absurd. Competitors want access to the free spot at the top of the <em>organic</em> results, which Google presently awards to its Shopping site in a sort of technological nepotism. Competitors like Foundem argue that there should be a clear algorithmic explanation of how that top spot is chosen, so everyone can compete fairly for it.

This will cause another round of complaints, and meanwhile the rivals are ground down further by Google's monopoly.
google  antitrust  europe 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Landmark Intel judgment critical for other EU antitrust cases • Reuters
Foo Yun Chee:
<p>Europe’s top court will rule on Wednesday whether US chipmaker Intel offered illegal rebates to squeeze out rivals in a judgment that could affect EU antitrust regulators’ cases against Qualcomm and Alphabet’s Google.

The ruling by the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) could also provide more clarity on whether rebates are anti-competitive by nature or whether enforcers need to prove the anti-competitive effect.

The European Commission in a 2009 decision said that Intel tried to thwart rival Advanced Micro Devices by giving rebates to PC makers Dell, Hewlett Packard, NEC and Lenovo for buying most of their computer chips from the company.

It handed down a €1.06bn ($1.3bn) fine, a record that was subsequently eclipsed by the €2.4bn fine levied on Google in June this year.

A lower court upheld the EU competition authority’s decision in 2014, but last year an ECJ court adviser backed Intel’s arguments.

An adverse ruling for the Commission on Wednesday could result in a radical review of ongoing cases, said Andrew Ward, a partner at Madrid-based law firm Cuatrecasas.</p>

Hard to see how a rebate isn't, in effect, a price cut or subsidy. This isn't like consumer rebates, where the expectation is that only a small percentage will actually take advantage of them because of the tedium of the rebate process.
intel  antitrust  europe 
september 2017 by charlesarthur
Google faces years of EU oversight on top of record antitrust fine • Reuters
Foo Yun Chee and Eric Auchard:
<p>The real sting is not from the fine for anti-competitive practices in shopping search but the way the EU has thrown the issue back to Google to solve, meaning the company won't be able to comply through an easy set of technical steps.

In effect, the Commission is forcing Google to demonstrate that rivals have made substantial inroads into its businesses before there is much chance of it being let off the regulatory hook.

EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager promised Google was in for years of monitoring to guard against further abuses.

"Just being put on notice can limit Google's strategic options into the future," said Matti Littunen, a digital media and online advertising analyst with Enders Analysis in London.

The EU's 2004 ruling that Microsoft Corp had abused its dominant market position in Windows and other markets is now seen as having curtailed the software giants moves over the subsequent decade to expand more quickly into emerging markets such as online advertising, opening the way for Google's rise.

Putting the onus on the company underlines regulators' limited knowledge of modern technologies and their complexity, said Fordham Law School Professor Mark Patterson.

"The decision shows the difficulty of regulating algorithm-based internet firms," he said. "Antitrust remedies usually direct firms that have violated antitrust laws to stop certain behaviour or, less often, to implement particular fixes.

"This decision just tells Google to apply 'equal treatment,' not how to do that".</p>
google  antitrust  europe 
june 2017 by charlesarthur
Revealed: how Facebook chief, Sheryl Sandberg, lobbied Taoiseach Enda Kenny over data protection role and taxation •
Brian Carroll:
<p>The documents released under the Freedom of Information Act cover 11 months of correspondence between the Taoiseach, his officials and Sheryl Sandberg [chief operating officer of Facebook].

Beginning on January 3 2014, the Taoiseach’s officials set up a one-to-one meeting between the Taoiseach and Ms Sandberg in meeting room ME22 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The meeting was to take place at 11am sharp on January 23. The correspondence reveals that Ms Sandberg sets the time of the meeting and confines it to 15 minutes because of her ‘tight schedule’.

At the meeting, Ms Sandberg lobbies Mr Kenny on taxation and on the spies issue, specifically advancing Facebook’s position in relation to proposed European Data Protection regulations. Later that evening Ms Sandberg ‘dropped by’ an IDA dinner at Davos.

Two days after the Davos meeting Ms Sandberg writes to Mr Kenny, and is sure to warn how changes to taxation or privacy laws might lead Facebook to consider ‘different options for future investment and growth in Europe’.</p>

FOI is such a marvellous tool.
facebook  europe  privacy  tax 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Android 87% share in China; more brands competing • Kantar Worldpanel
<p>The latest smartphone OS data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech reveal that in the first quarter of 2017, and despite an Apple earnings report that did not meet Wall Street’s expectations for iPhone sales, the company continued to make year-on-year share gains across most markets except urban China. The greatest increase for iOS came in Great Britain with 40.4% of smartphone sales, an increase of 5.6 percentage points, and in the US, with 38.9% of smartphone sales, an increase of 5.2 percentage points year-over-year…

“As a percentage of Android sales, Huawei continued to dominate in urban China at 36%. Oppo, which took the Chinese market by storm in 2016, has become the second largest Android brand with 13% of sales. Samsung fell to sixth place behind local Chinese vendors Xiaomi, Meizu, and Vivo, at just 5% of sales,” reported Tamsin Timpson, Strategic Insight Director at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Asia. “Oppo’s strength is in its brick-and-mortar presence, which accounts for 86% of their smartphone sales. This contrasts with most other brands in the market who all make at least a third of their sales online, except for Vivo.”

…“Across EU5, Chinese brands have grown over the past year to account for 22% of smartphone sales,” said Dominic Sunnebo, Business Unit Director for Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Europe. “Huawei, the second largest Android brand across France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, has also started to make its presence known in Great Britain, where it has historically struggled. Huawei accounted for 6.3% of smartphone sales in Great Britain in the first quarter of 2017, an all-time high, making it the third-largest Android brand in that market behind Samsung and Sony.”</p>

It's pretty clear that Apple has a problem in China once the excitement over a new phone subsides; this year in particular has been lower there.

The Huawei detail there caught my attention: if it's third behind Samsung and Sony (and the latter is shrinking fast globally) then the numbers involved are really not big. Perhaps it's an 85-10-5 breakdown. But longer-term, Samsung is at risk of getting chewed up in Europe just as it has been in China. Apple, though, isn't: iOS loyalty is high.
android  ios  apple  china  huawei  europe 
may 2017 by charlesarthur
Trump signs 'no privacy for non-Americans' order – what does that mean for rest of us? • The Register
Kieren McCarthy:
<p>US President Donald Trump may have undermined a critical data sharing agreement between the United States and Europe that internet giants rely on to do business overseas.

In an executive order focused on illegal immigrants that was signed by the president this week, one section specifically noted that privacy protections would not be extended past US citizens or permanent residents in America.

Section 14 of the Enhancing Public Safety order reads:
<p>Agencies shall, to the extent consistent with applicable law, ensure that their privacy policies exclude persons who are not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents from the protections of the Privacy Act regarding personally identifiable information.</p>

That language appears to directly contradict a critical component of the new Privacy Shield agreement between the US and Europe that provides essential legal protections for US businesses sending and receiving data across the Atlantic. In short, the agreement is supposed to ensure non-Americans are not treated as second-class citizens by US organizations, with weaker privacy safeguards than Americans are afforded.</p>

This looks like it torpedoes Privacy Shield, but there's more to it.
privacy  data  europe  us 
january 2017 by charlesarthur
The €13bn bite • The Economist
<p>America criticised the [EC ruling against Apple's Irish tax arrangements], calling it “unfair”. It had warned that it might retaliate in some way if Brussels went ahead. It argues that the commission is trying to turn itself into a “supranational tax authority”, threatening the consensus achieved through BEPS on the crucial “arm’s-length principle” at the heart of transfer-pricing rules. These govern the prices that subsidiaries of a multinational in different countries charge each other for the products and services that flow between them.

The Americans are fretting mainly because the ruling signals that Europe will lay claim to some of the more than $2 trillion of profits that American firms have amassed offshore, under the deferral provisions. Policymakers in Washington believe only the federal government has the right to tax this, as and when it is brought home. The Brussels decision may spur American politicians to set aside their differences on tax reform and agree on a package with a reduced tax rate for profits that firms repatriate; better that than to let Europe dip into the offshore pot, they think.</p>

Apple has allowed for this tax in its accounts - whether to be paid in the US or to Europe. The Economist nails this: the row now is over whether the money goes to European countries or to the US, not the principle of whether profits should be taxed.
apple  europe 
september 2016 by charlesarthur
A message to the Apple community in Europe • Apple (IE)
Tim Cook:
<p>Taxes for multinational companies are complex, yet a fundamental principle is recognized around the world: A company’s profits should be taxed in the country where the value is created. Apple, Ireland and the United States all agree on this principle.

In Apple’s case, nearly all of our research and development takes place in California, so the vast majority of our profits are taxed in the United States. European companies doing business in the U.S. are taxed according to the same principle. But the Commission is now calling to retroactively change those rules.

Beyond the obvious targeting of Apple, the most profound and harmful effect of this ruling will be on investment and job creation in Europe. Using the Commission’s theory, every company in Ireland and across Europe is suddenly at risk of being subjected to taxes under laws that never existed.</p>

"Taxed in the country where the value is created" sounds good - but in that case why would subsidiaries of multinationals based in country A ever pay any tax on transactions and profit generated in country B, even though they might be doing transactions just like those of a non-multinational based in country B - which would be taxed?
apple  eu  europe  ireland  tax 
august 2016 by charlesarthur
The European making sure America’s tech giants play by the rules • Bloomberg
Adam Satariano and Aoife White interview Margrethe Vestager:
<p><strong>What if the competitors’ products just aren’t as good? People don’t seem to have a problem with Google’s quality.</strong>

<strong>MV:</strong> That’s not the question. You don’t know if someone can come up with something better. Just because something is good doesn’t mean it’s the end of innovation. If it was, well then, we’d still be in horse carriages.
<strong>But isn’t there a choice? You’re investigating Google because people need to sign up for its services when they use Android. Can’t somebody download another search or e-mail app for their phone?</strong>

<strong>MV:</strong> If everything is presented to you, then your impetus to look for something new is so much smaller. Android is a very good operating system—open source. But how Android is used seems to place customers in a lot of instances on a one-way Google Street. That’s because you want an out-of-the-box experience, and even before you start thinking there is something else, you’re in a 100 percent Google experience.</p>

She says as a result of her work investigating this, "I’ve become slightly more obsessed with data security and much more reluctant to give away my data."
vestager  google  antitrust  europe 
august 2016 by charlesarthur
Antitrust: Commission takes further steps in investigations alleging Google's comparison shopping and advertising-related practices breach EU rules* • European Commission
And here's the other bit:
<p>Following the Statement of Objections issued in April 2015 and Google's response in August 2015*, the Commission has carried out further investigative measures. Today's supplementary Statement of Objections outlines a broad range of additional evidence and data that reinforces the Commission's preliminary conclusion that Google has abused its dominant position by systematically favouring its own comparison shopping service in its general search results.

The additional evidence relates, amongst other things, to the way Google favours its own comparison shopping service over those of competitors, the impact of a website's prominence of display in Google's search results on its traffic, and the evolution of traffic to Google's comparison shopping service compared to its competitors. The Commission is concerned that users do not necessarily see the most relevant results in response to queries - this is to the detriment of consumers, and stifles innovation.

In addition, the Commission has examined in detail <a href="">Google's argument that comparison shopping services should not be considered in isolation</a>, but together with the services provided by merchant platforms, such as Amazon and eBay. <strong>The Commission continues to consider that comparison shopping services and merchant platforms belong to separate markets.</strong> (<em>link and emphasis added</em>)

In any event, today's supplementary Statement of Objections finds that even if merchant platforms are included in the market affected by Google's practices, comparison shopping services are a significant part of that market and Google's conduct has weakened or even marginalised competition from its closest rivals.

By sending a supplementary Statement of Objections the Commission has reinforced its preliminary conclusion whilst at the same time protecting Google's rights of defence by giving it an opportunity to respond formally to the additional evidence. Google and Alphabet have eight weeks to respond to the supplementary Statement of Objections.</p>
google  antitrust  europe 
july 2016 by charlesarthur
Anarchy in the UK: Britain is sailing into a storm with no one at the wheel • The Economist
<p>IT WAS a troubling exchange. On live television Faisal Islam, the political editor of SkyNews, was recounting a conversation with a pro-Brexit Conservative MP. “I said to him: ‘Where’s the plan? Can we see the Brexit plan now?’ [The MP replied:] ‘There is no plan. The Leave campaign don’t have a post-Brexit plan…Number 10 should have had a plan.’” The camera cut to Anna Botting, the anchor, horror chasing across her face. For a couple of seconds they were both silent, as the point sunk in. “Don’t know what to say to that, actually,” she replied, looking down at the desk. Then she cut to a commercial break.

Sixty hours have gone by since a puffy-eyed David Cameron appeared outside 10 Downing Street and announced his resignation. The pound has tumbled. Investment decisions have been suspended; already firms talk of moving operations overseas. Britain’s EU commissioner has resigned. Sensitive political acts—the Chilcot report’s publication, decisions on a new London airport runway and the renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent—are looming. European leaders are shuttling about the continent meeting and discussing what to do next. Those more sympathetic to Britain are looking for signs from London of how they can usefully influence discussions. At home mounting evidence suggests a spike in racist and xenophobic attacks on immigrants. Scotland is heading for another independence referendum. Northern Ireland’s peace settlement may hang by a thread.

But at the top of British politics, a vacuum yawns wide. The phones are ringing, but no one is picking up.</p>

Still, mustn't grumble, eh?
brexit  economist  europe 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Thoughts on the sociology of Brexit • Political Economy Research Centre
Will Davies:
<p>One of the most insightful things I saw in the run-up to the referendum was <a href="">this video</a> produced by openDemocracy’s Adam Ramsey and Anthony Barnett discussing their visit to Doncaster, another Labour heartland. They chose Doncaster because it looked set to be a strong pro-Leave location, and wanted to understand what was at work in this.

Crucially, they observed that – in strong contrast to the Scottish ‘Yes’ movement – Brexit was not fuelled by hope for a different future. On the contrary, many Leavers believed that withdrawing from the EU wouldn’t really change things one way or the other, but they still wanted to do it. I’ve long <a href="">suspected</a> that, on some unconscious level, things could be even stranger than this: the self-harm inflicted by Brexit could potentially be part of its appeal. It is now being reported that many Leave voters are aghast at what they’ve done, as if they never really intended for their actions to yield results.

This taps into a much broader cultural and political malaise, that also appears to be driving the rise of Donald Trump in the US. Amongst people who have utterly given up on the future, political movements don’t need to promise any desirable and realistic change. If anything, they are more comforting and trustworthy if predicated on the notion that the future is beyond rescue, for that chimes more closely with people’s private experiences.

The discovery of the ‘Deaton effect’ in the US (unexpected rising mortality rates amongst white working classes) is linked to rising alcohol and opiate abuse and to rising suicide rates. It has also <a href="">been shown</a> to correlate closely to geographic areas with the greatest support for Trump. I don’t know of any direct equivalent to this in the UK, but it seems clear that – beyond the rhetoric of ‘Great Britain’ and ‘democracy’ – Brexit was never really articulated as a viable policy, and only ever as a destructive urge, which some no doubt now feel guilty for giving way to…

…The Remain campaign continued to rely on forecasts, warnings and predictions, in the hope that eventually people would be dissuaded from ‘risking it’. But to those that have given up on the future already, this is all just more political rhetoric. In any case, the entire practice of modelling the future in terms of ‘risk’ has lost credibility, as evidenced by the now terminal decline of opinion polling as a tool for political control.</p>

Excellent analysis. Read it too for its take on "facts" v "data" and the claims in the campaign.
brexit  politics  europe  uk 
june 2016 by charlesarthur
Daily chart: Debunking years of tabloid claims about Europe • The Economist
<p>THE Brexit campaign has been plagued by little white lies, half-truths and disinformation. Neither side has showered itself in glory in its attempts to persuade the British public of the benefits or drawbacks of EU membership. But Britain has a long and well-observed tradition of fabricating facts about Europe—so much so that the European Commission (EC) set up a website to debunk these lies in the early 1990s…

…the EC has responded to over 400 myths published by the British media. These range from the absurd (fishing boats will be forced to carry condoms) to the ridiculous (zippers on trousers will be banned). Some are seemingly the result of wilful misunderstandings. A story published by the Sun, a tabloid, in 1999 claimed that the queen would suddenly have to make her own tea because of new EU rules. Not only is this inaccurate, as a patient EC official pointed out, but the laws that this referred to were enacted by Britain itself in 1993. Another article in the Daily Star in 2004 reckoned that the EU was going to limit the speed of children’s playground roundabouts. This voluntary guideline, it turned out, was not proposed by the EU at all, but rather by a different organisation with the word “Europe” in its name. Other myths do not originate from anything close to reality, such as the allegation that the EC would ban darts from pubs or outlaw unwrapped sweets.</p>

Or just have a look at this graphic:

<img src="" width="100%" />

By the time you read this, the vote decision should be known. Will the untruths have won the day?
june 2016 by charlesarthur
EU prepares for Android crackdown »
Christian Oliver and Murad Ahmed:
<p>The EU has given its strongest signal to date of its intent to crack down hard on Google’s mobile operating system, comparing an imminent antitrust case against Android to Brussels’ epic confrontation with Microsoft a decade ago.

People involved in the case said that EU regulators were very close to opening a long-expected new front in their showdown with Google, which has already been hit with charges that it abused its dominance of online searches.

A second charge sheet, in relation to Android, is almost finalised. Margrethe Vestager, competition commissioner, would probably be ready to deliver it as early as this week, the people said, although the timing could not be confirmed.

Ms Vestager said on Monday that she was concerned that Google could be unfairly taking advantage of consumers’ desire to have pre-installed apps, ready for use as soon as “we take a new smartphone out of its box”. This could stifle innovation by keeping fledgling app makers and service providers out of the market.

“Our concern is that, by requiring phonemakers and operators to preload a set of Google apps, rather than letting them decide for themselves which apps to load, Google might have cut off one of the main ways that new apps can reach customers,” she said in a speech in the Netherlands.

Explaining her logic, she alluded to the European Commission’s landmark battle with Microsoft, which lasted years and culminated in 2007 with combined fines of more than €2bn.</p>

Very like the search charges (which were filed a year ago, and absolutely nothing has happened). Except that 1) Google really did manipulate search results to keep out rivals 2) phonemakers have always been able to use AOSP and then fill it in with apps - as happened with the Nokia X. I don't think the Android case is as strong as the search case.
google  antitrust  android  europe 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
A fleet of trucks just drove themselves across Europe » Quartz
Joon Ian Wong:
<p>About a dozen trucks from major manufacturers like Volvo and Daimler just completed a week of largely autonomous driving across Europe, the first such major exercise on the continent.

The trucks set off from their bases in three European countries and completed their journeys in Rotterdam in the Netherlands today (Apr. 6). One set of trucks, made by the Volkswagen subsidiary Scania, traveled more than 2,000 km and crossed four borders to get there.

The trucks were taking part in the <a href="">European Truck Platooning Challenge</a>, organized by the Dutch government as one of the big events for its 2016 presidency of the European Union. While self-driving cars from Google or Ford get most of the credit for capturing the public imagination, commercial uses for autonomous or nearly autonomous vehicles, like tractors from John Deere, have been quietly putting the concept to work in a business setting.</p>

There's a video too. Obvious that trucks are a bit easier to automate than cars. But the job implications are enormous, as <a href="">this piece from last June pointed out</a>. Not just truck drivers; think truck stops too.
ai  culture  driving  europe  trucks 
april 2016 by charlesarthur
Apple, McDonald's, Google and IKEA to face EU lawmakers over tax deals » Reuters
Foo Yun Chee:
<p>Apple, Google, McDonald's and IKEA will be asked about their European tax deals on Wednesday as EU lawmakers ratchet up the pressure on multinationals to pay more tax on their profits locally.

The hearing, organized by the European Parliament's tax committee, follows a similar event in November last year when Anheuser-Busch InBev, HSBC, Google and eight other companies were quizzed on the same subject.

While the committee has no power to order changes, the hearing reflects the political concerns over multinationals avoiding local tax liabilities.</p>
tax  europe 
march 2016 by charlesarthur
European antitrust chief takes swipe at privacy issue » The New York Times
Mark Scott on the EC's Margrethe Vestager's speech at the DLD conference:
<p>“If a few companies control the data you need to cut costs, then you give them the power to drive others out of the market,” Ms. Vestager said at the DLD conference, a gathering of digital executives and policy makers.

She said that “it’s hard to know” how much data is given up when using an online messaging service.

“But it’s a business transaction, not a free giveaway,” she continued. “As consumers, we need to be treated fairly.”

Ms. Vestager’s warning shot in the often-rancorous privacy debate comes ahead of a Jan. 31 deadline for Europe and the United States to reach a new data-sharing agreement…

…A number of European executives echoed Ms. Vestager’s fears about how a small number of American tech companies could use their large-scale data collection to favor their own services over those of rivals. Among them was Oliver Samwer, the German entrepreneur who co-founded Rocket Internet, one of the region’s most high-profile tech companies.

“If someone like Google or Facebook has all of the data, then that’s not good,” Mr. Samwer said here on Sunday.</p>
antitrust  europe  data 
january 2016 by charlesarthur
Deutsche Telekom said to weigh new antitrust complaint against Google » The New York Times
Mark Scott:
<p>Deutsche Telekom, which owns a controlling stake in T-Mobile US, the cellphone carrier, appears ready to get involved in Europe’s investigation into Google’s Android mobile software as well. Deutsche Telekom is expected to file a formal complaint with European competition authorities in the coming weeks, according to several people with direct knowledge of the discussions.

The complaint, which may be submitted by early November, focuses on whether Google uses its Android mobile operating system to unfairly promote its own products like Google Maps and online search over those of rivals, the people said. They would speak only on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.</p>

This is separate from the search antitrust investigation (which is principally looking at desktop).
google  antitrust  europe  android 
october 2015 by charlesarthur
Behind the European privacy ruling that’s confounding Silicon Valley »
Robert Levine:
<p>American technology firms are especially worried because they routinely transfer so much information across the Atlantic. “International data transfers are the lifeblood of the digital economy,” said Townsend Feehan, chief executive of IAB Europe, which represents online advertising companies including Google as well as small start-ups. The ruling “brings with it significant uncertainty as to the future possibility for such transfers.”

As Mr. Schrems sees it, however, what is at stake is a deeper conflict between the European legal view of privacy as a right equivalent to free speech and that of the United States, where consumers are asked to read and agree to a company’s terms of service and decide what’s best for themselves. “We only do this in the privacy field — dump all the responsibility on the user,” Mr. Schrems said. He pointed out that consumers are not expected to make decisions about other complex issues, like food or building safety. “In a civilized society,” he said, “you expect that if you walk into a building it’s not going to collapse on your head.”</p>

But if it collapses on your head and kills you, then you sue! No, hang on. (Bonus point to Levine for the handwringing quote from the advertising industry.)
privacy  europe 
october 2015 by charlesarthur
Critics due to get EU's Google antitrust charge sheet this week: sources » Reuters
Foo Yun Chee:
Microsoft, German publisher Axel Springer and 17 other critics of Google are expected to get a copy of the EU's antitrust charge sheet against the search engine giant this week in order to allow them to provide feedback, four people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.

The 19 companies, which include U.S. online travel site Expedia, U.S. consumer reviews website Yelp, online mapping service Hot-map and British price comparison site Foundem, helped triggered the European Commission's case against Google nearly five years ago…

…Google has until July 7 to respond to the accusations. This can be extended on request. It can also seek a closed-door hearing to argue its case before a broad audience of antitrust officials and the critics.

The complainants were told on Monday to sign confidentiality waivers not to disclose the so-called statement of objections to journalists or public affairs consultants before they could get a copy of the redacted document, according to a Commission letter seen by Reuters.

The critics were told to restrict the charge sheet to their lawyers and economists.

Leaks in 3,2,1...
google  europe  antitrust 
june 2015 by charlesarthur
How Google’s top minds decide what to forget » WSJ
Lisa Fleisher and Sam Schechner:
Google has only been removing results from European domains such as or—but not, even when accessed in Europe. That can make it simple to find results that have been removed, leading regulators to issue <a href="">an opinion saying Google’s position didn’t go far enoug</a>h.

Regulators say their position holds and that Google should comply or face legally binding orders to do so.

“Their position will have to change,” said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of the CNIL, France’s data-protection regulator, as well as chairwoman of a pan-European advisory body that includes all EU privacy regulators.

Another confrontation looms. (Clever headline, too.)
rtbf  google  europe 
may 2015 by charlesarthur
EU to probe popular US sites over data use and search »
Duncan Robinson and Alex Barker:
In a <a href="">draft plan</a> for a “digital single market” encompassing everything from online shopping to telecoms regulation, the commission said it would probe how online platforms list search results and how they use customer data. The latest draft of the plan, seen by the FT, will be approved by the commission next week.
The plan could also bring in stricter rules for video-on-demand services such as Netflix and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Skype that have become big rivals to traditional European media and telecoms companies.
Companies such as Airbnb and Uber are also likely to be roped into any investigation into platforms, which will aim to determine whether they are abusing their market power in the so-called “sharing economy”.

Seems premature to be asking whether Airbnb and Uber are "abusing their market power". How much market, how much power?
data  europe  market 
may 2015 by charlesarthur
Feb 2009: Google joins Europe case against Microsoft »
Miguel Helft, in February 2009, as Google applied to become a complainant in the EC's case against Microsoft over illegal tying of Internet Explorer to Windows:
“Google believes that the browser market is still largely uncompetitive, which holds back innovation for users,” Sundar Pichai, a vice president for product management, wrote in a Google blog. “This is because Internet Explorer is tied to Microsoft’s dominant computer operating system, giving it an unfair advantage over other browsers.”

Google declined to make anyone available to discuss its announcement. By becoming a party to the case, it would participate in the proceedings and gain access to the confidential “statement of objections” that European regulators sent to Microsoft last month. Google could also argue for remedies it prefers.

This seems like a bad move, in retrospect. Google had just launched Chrome, and Android was just beginning to make its first moves. You'd have to be smart to see how mobile was going to grow (but aren't the people at Google meant to be smart?), but angering Microsoft - as this surely did - meant that Microsoft was always going to seek revenge. Which it is now getting.
antitrust  eu  europe  google  microsoft 
april 2015 by charlesarthur
Uber’s claim to be a Euro jobs-creator is full of Volkswagen-sized holes >> PandoDaily
Michael Carney:
According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA), the auto industry employs 12.9 million people across the continent, representing 5.3 percent of the total workforce. What’s more, the industry’s high-skilled manufacturing jobs represent a full 10 percent of such jobs in the EU. The auto industry also represents 6.9 percent of the EU GDP. So the question is, what would happen if Uber eliminated the need for 400,000 of these vehicles?

It’s a complicated question that belies a straightforward answer. But if we make the admittedly simplistic assumption that a one percent reduction in autos demand equates to an equal one percent reduction in employment within the sector, the impact of Uber’s expansion begins to look much less positive.

Those 400,000 vehicles eliminated represent approximately 2.4 percent of the 16.2 million vehicles (cars, vans, trucks and buses) produced per year in the EU. Applying this percentage to the employment within the sector and we get approximately 320,000 jobs. So, while Uber is making headlines with promises of creating 50,000 new jobs – low-skill, low-stability “jobs” at that – behind the scenes, the company is threatening more than six-times as many jobs in one of Europe’s most critical industries.

No love lost between Pando and Uber. But the logic here is pretty straightforward. I'm dubious about the benefits of privatising taxi regulation to a single private company which can dismiss people (and ban would-be riders) at its own whim, with no recourse.
uber  europe 
january 2015 by charlesarthur
Google faces €15m fines over privacy breaches in Netherlands >> The Guardian
Chris Johnston:
The search company is failing to abide by the data protection act in the Netherlands by taking users’ private information such as browsing history and location data to target them with customised ads, according to the country’s Data Protection Authority (DPA).

The Dutch regulator has given Google until the end of February to change how it handles the data it collects from individual web users.

Google has also been under investigation in Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain for its handling of user data since introducing new company guidelines two years ago.

Jacob Kohnstamm, DPA chairman, said: “This has been ongoing since 2012 and we hope our patience will no longer be tested.”

Holland isn't alone - other European countries are looking to fine Google over this. The amounts, though, are piddling compared to its profits.
google  privacy  europe 
december 2014 by charlesarthur
Google only has itself to blame if Europe succeeds in breaking up the company >> Business Insider
Jim Edwards:
Merely being a monopoly is not a transgression, even in Europe. (It's often a sign of natural success.) Rather, <a href="">EU antitrust law applies when companies abuse their monopoly</a> to manipulate markets around them unfairly.

On that measure, Google has more than qualified for scrutiny over the way it distorts markets that have nothing to do with search.

The best evidence for that came from Yelp and a coalition of companies it has formed who believe they are being screwed out of their natural, "organic" ranking in search results because Google simply dumps its own — often unhelpful — content on top of the "real" search ranking of which sites are best.

<a href="">Yelp's evidence was elegant and simple: It used Google's own search API to create a browser extension</a> that displayed Google search results without results that include promo boxes generated from Google+, the unpopular identity/social network product that Google launched to counter Facebook. The extension shows you the "real" result generated by Google's algorithm, without the self-promotional fluff that Google layers on top of it.

The difference is alarming.
google  antitrust  europe  search 
november 2014 by charlesarthur
Whistling Google: PLEASE! Brussels can only hurt Europe, not us >> The Register
Andrew Orlowski, on the European Parliament's inconsequential (yet consequential) motion to make Google split services from search:
Google today wields enormous power over other industries, in a way Microsoft never could, even at the zenith of its influence. Newspapers didn’t close, and musicians didn’t go hungry, because Windows was late. No Active X control ever destroyed an economic sector. Yet you can plausibly argue that the consequences for European industry and its citizens freedoms are at least indirectly attributable to Google’s strategic use (and abuse) of other people’s property and personal effects…

…DCMA provisions were designed to protect ISPs and other service providers in the mid-1990s, when the public internet was in its infancy.

Today, they are favourable to huge internet aggregators, and load the deck against individuals and tiny companies seeking to protect their work. Google required the music company to promise not to sue an unlicensed uploader, thereby protecting Google’s supply chain. “You can sign and get a fraction of a penny,” Google was saying, “or you can refuse to sign and get nothing. It’s up to you – but either way, we’ll use your work and make money off it.”

As he points out, though, the European Commission is hopelessly screwed in both its aims and implementation of anything digital.
google  dmca  europe  law 
november 2014 by charlesarthur

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