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Taking on big tech: where does Australia stand?

 |  July 24, 2018

Posted by The Conversation

Taking on big tech: where does Australia stand?

By Caron Beaton-Wells

Big tech is under fire in Europe. In its latest sting, the European Commission has slapped Google with an eye-watering €4.3 billion (US$5 billion) fine for anti-competitive tying of its Android operating system to its in-house search engine and web browser.

The decision follows the Commission’s €2.4 billion (US$2.8 billion) fine against the company for giving illegal advantage to its comparison shopping service, just over a year ago.

And the search company is not alone in feeling the heat from Brussels. Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have all been on the receiving end of what some see as a “techlash” reflecting anti-US bias and protectionism.

So far, US competition authorities have taken a far more restrained approach. The Federal Trade Commission looked into various Google practices in 2012 and found it had no case to raise around search bias. Antitrust officials are instead encouraging vigilance but caution when it comes to intervening in data-driven markets characterised by high rates of innovation.

Closer to home, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is conducting an inquiry into the impact of digital platforms on media and advertising markets. It is attracting intense interest, not just here but abroad. There are also reports of the ACCC separately investigating Google’s data-harvesting practices.

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