Google is caught in the global antitrust network


As a global The company has its advantages. There is a lot of money to earn abroad. But the largest technology company in the United States has discovered that this also has a disadvantage: every country where you make money is a country that might try to regulate you.

It is difficult to keep track of all technology-related antitrust actions taking place around the world, partly because it doesn’t always seem to be worth paying close attention to.In Europe, which has long been home to the most radical regulator in the world, Google alone has been hit $2.7 billion fine In 2017, a Fined $5 billion 2018, and Fined $1.7 billion In 2019.These amounts are devastating for most companies, but for a reporting company, they are nothing more than rounding errors $61.9 billion In the last quarter’s revenue.

However, foreign countries are increasingly surpassing the fines on their wrists. Instead, they are forcing technology companies to change the way they do business.February, Australia Passed a law Give news publishers the right to negotiate payments with major Internet platforms (actually Facebook and Google). In August, South Korea became First country Pass a law that forces Apple and Google to open their mobile app stores to other payment systems, threatening their control of the 30% commission charged to developers.With the potential for huge consequences, Google will soon have to respond to the Turkish competition authority’s Require Stop favoring your attributes in local search results.

The consequences of such cases may extend far beyond the borders of the country implementing the new rules​​, creating natural experiments that other national regulatory agencies may follow.For example, Google and Facebook have acquiesced to Australia’s media negotiation guidelines. This fact may accelerate similar efforts in other countries, including Taiwan, Canada, Even AmericaAs Yelp’s senior vice president of public policy, Luther Lowe spent more than a decade lobbying for antitrust action against Google, and he approvingly called this phenomenon “remedial measures spread.”

In other cases, companies that are forced to change their business models abroad may decide to adopt this shift globally before being forced.After resolving an investigation by the Japan Fair Trade Commission, Apple decided Implement the solution— Allow audio, video, and reading applications to link to their own website to accept payments globally.

“Sometimes the market is driving it: companies think it is too costly to develop different compliance strategies in different markets,” said Anu Bradford, a professor of international and antitrust law at Columbia University. “Or, sometimes, it is looking forward to imitation supervision: they know it is there, and they won’t wait for the Russians or Turks to do their own case.”

Although it has not received media attention like Australia and South Korea, the Turkish case may eventually become the biggest deal. That’s because it cuts into the core of how Google uses its power as a gatekeeper for most Internet traffic.

This case is about so-called local searches, such as when you are looking for “restaurants near me” or “hardware stores”. This is a huge search traffic category——Nearly half According to some analysts, in all Google searches. Google’s critics and competitors have long complained that Google is unfairly using its dominance to direct local search results to its products, even if this may not be the most useful result. Think about it, if you search for “Chinese restaurants” on Google, the top of the results page might show a widget that Google calls OneBox. It will include parts of Google Maps and some Google reviews of Chinese restaurants near you. You must scroll down to find the top organic search results, which may come from Yelp or TripAdvisor.

Over the years, this dynamic has angered Google’s critics and competitors. One of those aggrieved competitors, Yelp, File a case Filed a complaint with the country’s competition authority and succeeded in Turkey. Google argues that its local search results are designed to help users to the maximum extent, not to fill their own bottom line. However, the Turkish regulatory agency disagrees, believing that Google “abuses its dominant position in the general search service market and promotes its local search and accommodation price comparison services by excluding competitors, in violation of Article 6 of the Turkish Competition Law.” (I quoted a translation provided by a Turkish lawyer.) In April, they fine About 36 million U.S. dollars. This is less than the average revenue Google will earn every two hours in 2020. Although the fine is negligible, the rest of the decisions are not. The authorities issued a preliminary ruling, ordering Google to come up with a way to display local search results that does not help it outperform its competitors.



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