Technology Oct 21

Factbox: Regulatory probes Google is facing worldwide

From Australia to the European Union, regulators are taking action against tech giant  

by Sayantani Ghosh
Factbox: Regulatory probes Google is facing in Asia, Europe
Google’s Australian campus. Photo: Reuters

The US Justice Department is expected to file a lawsuit against Alphabet’s Google, possibly asking a court to break up the $1 trillion search and advertising giant.

Here's a list of the current investigations and reviews into the alleged anticompetitive practices at Google across Asia and Europe.

Australia:

Australia sued Google in July for misleading consumers to get permission for use of their personal data for targeted advertising. The country's antitrust regulator has also warned that Google's planned $2.1 billion acquisition of fitness tracker maker Fitbit may give it too much of people's data, potentially hurting competition in health and online advertising markets.

The regulator also wants independent mediators to decide how much Google pays media companies for republishing their content. Google, which responded by saying its main search engine may be at risk in Australia as a result, has announced a plan to pay $1 bn to publishers globally for their news over the next three years.

China:

China is preparing to launch an antitrust probe looking into allegations that Google leveraged the dominance of its Android mobile operating system to stifle competition, Reuters reported last month, citing sources.

The case has been submitted by the country's top market regulator to the State Council's antitrust committee for review, the sources said. 

Google's main search platform has been blocked in China since 2010 but it still has some business in the country, such as advertising sales.

Europe:

The European Union has been at the forefront of probing antitrust issues against Google, since launching its first investigation in 2010.

The EU competition enforcer handed a fine to Google in 2017 for favoring its own price-comparison shopping service against those of smaller European rivals. Two further decisions for different issues since then have lifted the total penalty to 8.25bn euros.

It is currently investigating Google's $2.1bn purchase of Fitbit.

India:

Reuters, citing sources, reported this month that Google is facing a new antitrust case in India for allegedly abusing its Android operating system's position in the smart television market.

The case is Google's fourth major antitrust challenge in India.

In 2018, the country's anti-competition regulator fined Google for "search bias," but a company appeal against that is pending. The regulator is also probing Google for allegedly misusing its dominant position to reduce the ability of smartphone makers to opt for alternate versions of Android, as well as reviewing a case alleging that Google unfairly promotes its mobile payments app in the country.

Japan:

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said on Monday it will join forces with the United States and Europe to take on any market abuses by the four Big Tech companies - Google, Apple, Amazon and Facebook.

South Korea:

South Korea's antitrust regulator said earlier this month it was reviewing Google's plans to charge 30% commissions for in-app purchases made through its to application store, widening scrutiny that started with the country's telecom regulator.  

  • Reuters. Additional reporting by Brenda Goh, Heekyong Yang, Makiko Yamazaki, Byron Kaye and Supantha Mukherjee

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