While the US and other regions are shining more of a spotlight on Google and the Play Store, the EU has already issued a 2018 ruling that imposed Google with a $5 billion fine over anticompetitive practices on Android. Google is fighting that fine, and slamming EU regulators over turning a blind eye to Apple.
European Union Stories September 27
European Union Stories April 30
As Google tests out its replacement for third-party cookies, the Federated Learning of Cohorts, the company has faced a lot of scrutinies for the initiative. Now, some regulators in the EU are raising concerns about FLoC as well that could spell trouble for the future of Google’s initiative.
European Union Stories October 16, 2020
[Update: Extended] Google’s Fitbit deal to be investigated by EU through January 2021
Google announced late last year that it planned to purchase Fitbit to bolster its wearable portfolio, but the deal has been under scrutiny from the EU since day one. Several months later, it’s now looking like Google’s Fitbit deal will undergo a full investigation from the European Union.
European Union Stories June 11, 2020
Google, Facebook, and Twitter commit to coronavirus misinformation reports per EU request
While other events may have started to overshadow the coronavirus pandemic, the virus is still very much a big deal around the globe. Now, in order with a request from the European Union, US tech giants including Google are going to produce regular reports regarding misinformation online about the coronavirus.
European Union Stories February 20, 2020
Google shifting UK user data to US, ditching GDPR protection in the process
GDPR has had a huge effect on how internet services work in the European Union, but following Brexit, Google may make some changes to how UK data is handled. A report from Reuters reveals that Google is preparing to shift data from UK users to be under US jurisdiction.
European Union Stories September 25, 2019
European Union Stories March 20, 2019
European Union Stories June 28, 2016
The European Union has already filed two sets of antitrust charges against Google, the first accusing it of manipulating search results to favor its own products, the second alleging that Google forces Android device manufacturers to install its own apps and set Google search as the default.
Last summer, it was reported that the company may face a third antitrust case in Europe, this time for abusing its dominant position in advertising, and the WSJ reports that the EU is currently preparing to files these charges, possibly next month …
European Union Stories May 16, 2016
We had heard that the EU was planning to levy a substantial fine on Google for its alleged favoring of its own services in search over those belonging to competitors last year already, and the Telegraph is reporting that the European Commission is now estimating a hefty €3 billion ($3.4b) tag… expand full story
European Union Stories April 27, 2016
Google seems to be under fire lately. Less than a week from the European Union’s charges against the Mountain View company regarding supposedly unfair practices towards its hardware partners, TIME is reporting that the famous stock photo agency Getty Images is now accusing the technology giant of “promoting piracy” with its Images search engine…
European Union Stories March 25, 2016
The French data protection regulator CNIL has fined Google €100,000 ($112,000) after rejecting the company’s proposed compromise over the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ legislation.
The legislation gives individuals the right to have ‘outdated or irrelevant’ information about them removed from Google’s search results. Google at first offered to remove the results from Google’s local domains on a country-by-country basis, in this case google.fr, before saying that it would also remove them from google.com when a search was carried out from within France …
European Union Stories February 25, 2016
Just one day after the UK’s public spending watchdog described the £130M ($185M) back-tax paid by Google in the country as “disproportionately small,” France is demanding a rather larger sum. Reuters reports that the country’s finance ministry believes Google owes €1.6B ($1.76B).
“As far as our country is concerned, back taxes concerning this company amount to 1.6 billion euros,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said […]
Earlier this month, Finance Minister Michel Sapin ruled out striking a deal with the U.S. search engine company as the British government recently did, saying the sums at stake in France were “far greater” than those in Britain …
European Union Stories February 24, 2016
The Public Accounts Committee, the British Parliament’s public spending watchdog, has criticized the £130M ($185M) tax deal Google struck with the UK government as “disproportionately small.” The committee also criticized the secrecy around how the sum was calculated, reports the Guardian.
Google’s controversial tax deal cannot be properly assessed by MPs because of secrecy surrounding the negotiations, according to a report by parliament’s public spending watchdog. But the deal to pay £130m in back taxes for a 10-year period seems “disproportionately small when compared with the size of Google’s business in the UK”, the public accounts committee has found.
A report published today calls for more to be done to prevent “aggressive [tax] avoidance” by multinational companies, with Google accused of hypocrisy …
European Union Stories January 28, 2016
The European Commission says that the £130M ($185M) tax deal struck between Google and the UK government may amount to “illegal state aid” by offering the company better terms than those available to smaller businesses.
Google first came under fire for its tax arrangements in the UK in early 2013, when it was accused of funneling profits from UK Adword sales through Ireland, resulting in the company paying just £6M ($8.5M) tax on a turnover of £395M ($565M). In the new deal, it agreed to change its accounting practices to pay more tax in the UK, and to pay a lump sum in back tax …
European Union Stories November 4, 2015
With Google potentially facing a fine of up to $6.6B after the European Commission charged the company of abusing its dominant position in search, its lawyers have now filed a 130-page rebuttal. In it, the company attempts to use a legal technicality to argue that it cannot be fined for favouring its own products in search results … expand full story
European Union Stories October 23, 2015
Following Google’s donation-matching program, which has so far raised more than $12M to fund humanitarian aid for refugees from Syria and other war zones, the company says that it is now providing technological assistance too.
In a blog post today, Google says that it has developed an open source project called the Crisis Info Hub to provide migrants with access to the immediate information they need on arrival in Greece in a lightweight, battery-saving way. The company says that it is also helping to beef-up mobile data connectivity locally … expand full story
European Union Stories September 18, 2015
Google Spain took to its official Twitter handle to announce the news we’ve been waiting on for some time: Android One has finally landed in Europe. Having seen a rollout in several Asian and African countries, this marks the first time we’ve seen Google’s budget-friendly stock Android effort within the EU. The first European Android One handset is the BQ Aquaris A4.5, which is available to buy now direct from BQ in Spain and Portugal…
European Union Stories September 1, 2015
It seems Google’s legal woes in Europe will never end. The European Commission has long been running an investigation into whether Google was guilty of anti-competitive behaviour in Europe, which finally resulted in a filing of charges in April and a warning of large fines in June. It may be next year – some six years after the investigation began – before the final ruling.
A second anti-trust investigation into Android followed, and a third one not long afterwards, this time into its web advertising business. As if all that weren’t enough, the NY Times reports that a US law firm and European public affairs company have created a joint venture to help companies file civil claims against Google in the event that the EC finds it guilty of the first set of charges … expand full story
European Union Stories July 31, 2015
Samsung and MasterCard partner to bring Samsung Pay to Europe
Samsung Pay, the manufacturer’s contactless mobile payment service, is rolling out in Europe soon thanks to a partnership with MasterCard in the EU. Once the service launches officially, card issuers will be able to enroll in MasterCard’s Digital Enablement Services (MDES), and apply the capability to all kinds of MasterCard credit, debit, prepaid credit and small business cards.
What makes Samsung Pay a different to most mobile payment services is that it works with both Magstrip and NFC POS terminals, meaning you will be able to pay virtually anywhere that has a card machine.
European Union Stories July 27, 2015
Google announced today that it is updating its AdSense user consent policy to comply with requests from European Union data protection authorities. The updated user consent policy strengthens the requirement that publishes with audiences in the EU obtain permission from readers before collecting usage data and accessing cookies. Google says the updated user consent policy follows its own approach to comply with privacy laws. The company outlines the updated user consent policy for website and app publishers with EU readers and users: expand full story
European Union Stories July 11, 2015
European Union Stories June 29, 2015
Harvard/Columbia study for Yelp may influence level of European antitrust fines for Google
A study commissioned by Yelp and carried out by two prominent U.S. academics has quantified the impact of Google giving prominence to its own services over organic results, reports the WSJ.
The study’s authors— Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Tim Wu of Columbia Law School—found that users were 45% more likely to click on results that were ranked purely by relevance, rather than as Google ranks them now, with its own services displayed prominently.
The study of 2,500 Internet users said that the results provided empirical evidence that Google’s promotion of its own services resulted in lower-quality search results for consumers. Google, in contrast, had argued that its own specialist services can provide consumers with more precise answers to their queries.
Yelp was one of a number of companies that filed European antitrust complaints against Google five years ago, leading to a European Commission investigation that has been running ever since – with various attempts by Google to bring proceedings to and end. Some of these were rejected while others were accepted, but the EC finally decided in April to file charges against Google, before being told to expect large fines.
The results of this study may influence the level of these fines.
European Union Stories June 18, 2015
Google controls most of the search engine market in Europe, and as a result receives most ‘right to be forgotten’ requests, those things where individuals can request the de-listing of links to sensitive information about themselves that are deemed out-dated or irrelevant. But more than half of requests are denied, and of those that are appealed, most of those are too denied – which the European Union says is just fine.
European Union Stories June 12, 2015
Google has so far been meeting the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling in Europe by removing links only from the local site for each country – google.com remaining unaffected. A French court ruled last November that removing links from google.fr was insufficient, and ordered Google to remove the links worldwide.
European Union Stories May 15, 2015
The Financial Times is reporting that European mobile carriers are planning to block Google and other web ads in order to reduce demands on their networks and break Google’s hold on advertising (via TNW).
According to the story, which cites anonymous sources, the carriers have installed software from Israeli ad-blocking firm Shine in their data centers to block advertising in Web pages and apps, but not social networks.
Many websites, 9to5Google among them, depend on ad revenue to deliver free content to their readers. Any move to block ads could have far-reaching consequences … expand full story
European Union Stories May 13, 2015
The controversy over the ‘right to be forgotten‘ by Google has often seemed destined to run forever, Google arguing that it was being asked to make “difficult and debatable judgements” based on “very vague and subjective tests,” while European courts said that the company wasn’t fully complying with the law.
Google said that it was complying with court orders by removing “outdated or irrelevant” sensitive information about individuals from its European sites, while leaving the .com site untouched. European courts want Google to remove results from google.com also.
European Union Stories April 23, 2015
Re/code has a roundup of what analysts are expecting from Google this afternoon, when the company announces its Q1 earnings and provides at least a little guidance on the future.
Consensus estimates are for net revenue of $14.12 billion, a 16 percent uptick year over year. Currency winds could drag down the numbers.
Google isn’t expected to reveal much information about its future plans, but analysts expect at least some degree of clarity in three areas, says the piece … expand full story
European Union Stories April 15, 2015
As expected, the EU has formally accused Google of abusing its dominant position in search to favor links to its own products over those offered by competitors. The complaint takes the form of a Statement of Objections: a formal method of announcing that it believes Google has acted illegally and that a full investigation is underway.
The Commission’s preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that “Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”
Google has not wasted any time in attempting to convince the Commission otherwise, arguing in a blog post that the evidence shows that Google has not harmed traffic to competitor websites … expand full story
European Union Stories April 14, 2015
Update: the EU Commission has now filed its complaint
It doesn’t sound good for Google in Europe where the company has faced continued criticism, some comical and some less so, for using its dominant 90+% search share to give advantages to its other properties and squash competitors. FT:
Google will on Wednesday be accused by Brussels of illegally abusing its dominance of the internet search market in Europe, a step that ultimately could force it to change its business model fundamentally and pay hefty fines. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is to say that the US group will soon be served with a formal charge sheet alleging that it breached antitrust rules by diverting traffic from rivals to favour its own services, according to two people familiar with the case.
Europe’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, is expected to make an announcement that Google has abused its dominant position on Wednesday in Brussels, according to two people who spoke on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity…
“The E.U. competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, will decide what steps they want to go,” Günther Oettinger, a German politician who is charge of Europe’s digital economy, told Die Welt am Sonntag, a German newspaper, on Sunday. “I think that they will be far-reaching.”
Google has yet to comment on the matter but if Google fails to rebut any formal charges, Ms. Vestager could “levy a huge fine that could go above 6 billion euros, or $6.4 billion, amounting to about 10 percent of Google’s most recent annual revenue”.
Google stock is off 2 points today.
European Union Stories April 3, 2015
European Union Stories April 1, 2015
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the European Commission is preparing to file antitrust charges against Google. The charges come after a five-year long investigation that’s stalled three times and caused strong political divides in Europe.
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European Union Stories March 5, 2015
EU court says ebooks aren’t books, must be subject to higher tax rates
Europe’s top court has declared that ebooks are ‘services’ rather than books, and that European countries are not allowed to give them the same favorable tax treatment as paper books. The reasoning, such as it is, is that ebooks cannot be used without a physical device, and ebooks are a service provided to those devices.
Both France and Luxembourg have applied to ebooks the same reduced rate of VAT (sales tax) enjoyed by books made from crushed trees. The WSJ reports that the EU has ruled that this is illegal.
Since 2012, France has applied a 5.5% VAT rate and Luxembourg a 3% VAT rate on e-books, the same rate as for paper books. The European Court of Justice said both countries must apply their normal VAT rate, which for France is 20% and for Luxembourg is 17%.
Europe already closed one ebook-related tax loophole: Amazon used to use its Luxembourg base as a reason to charge just 3% on ebook sales throughout Europe, but a change in the law forced it to apply the VAT rate applicable to the customer’s own country.
There is some small hope that sanity may prevail in future. The European Commission has said that there may be legal mechanisms through which countries can in future define their own policies, with an “extensive overhaul” of VAT rules to be completed next year. However, don’t be surprised if ‘harmonization’ of tax rates for paper and digital books results in higher taxes on the former to pay for lower taxes on the latter …
European Union Stories January 30, 2015
The UK’s Information Commissioner didn’t object to the personal data collected by Google, but found that it was not properly explaining to consumers what data was collected and how it would be used. Google has agreed to include illustrative examples to help consumers to understand its policies.
In particular the Commissioner recommended that the data controller should do more to bring users’ attention to processing which would not be within their reasonable expectations. When considering this point it was noted that some users will not have sufficient technical knowledge to fully appreciate the ways in which the data controller can obtain their data from their use of the data controller’s products and services, how the data is combined, and how behavioural advertising on the internet operates. It was suggested that further examples of the processing would assist in this regard.
Google also came under fire in the UK last year for continuing to drop cookies in Safari even when users had switched off this option.
Its far bigger fight against Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten‘ legislation is likely to continue to run for some considerable time.
European Union Stories January 23, 2015
Google Play services ceasing in Crimea on 1st February, AdSense & AdWord blocks underway
Google has started to block AdSense and Adwords accounts in Crimea, and Google Play services will cease on 1st February, reports TechCrunch. The moves are being made in order to comply with sanctions on the Crimea region of the Ukraine imposed by the US Government.
Free services, like search, maps and gmail are all expected to remain unaffected, but all services involving payment to or from Google will cease, said Russian site Lenta.ru.
“Google’s prohibited from providing paid services in the Crimea,” a source at Google told Lenta.ru. “In addition, Google cannot make payments to anyone in the Crimea. It is now technically impossible, as almost all international banks have ceased to make payments.”
The US joined the EU in imposing economic sanctions in protest at Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, which legally remains part of the Ukraine. TechCrunch notes that the political conflict could escalate, with the possibility that Russian government may retaliate by blocking the sale of US imports into Russia–an important market for many US companies, including Google.
Apple terminated its own agreements with app developers in the region earlier this week, and has announced that all sales of Apple products and services will cease as of 1st February. Other companies are similarly ceasing business in the region, including both Steam and PayPal.
European Union Stories December 15, 2014
Most newspapers were slow to get the hang of the Internet, and Spanish ones more than most, it appears. After successfully lobbying for a law which would force Google to pay them every time it quoted even the smallest excerpt of a story in its Google News search results, Google responded by closing the service in Spain.
Belatedly realising they will now be missing out on all the traffic Google used to drive to their websites, the Spanish newspaper publishers’ association AEDE is asking the government to force Google to re-open the service, reports The Spain Report … expand full story
European Union Stories December 1, 2014
More than six months after handing down its controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling, in which individuals in Europe have the right to have ‘inaccurate, outdated or irrelevant’ links deleted from search engine results, the European Court of Justice has finally published guidelines on how the ruling should be applied.
While the guidelines acknowledge the need to balance the rights of the individual against the public interest, the specifics are best described as vague … expand full story
European Union Stories November 27, 2014
In a vote in Strasbourg, 384 legislators voted in favor of the controversial initiative, with 174 against and 56 abstentions […]
“Clear adoption by the EP of Digital Single Market motion, including unbundling for search engine if needed,” tweeted Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, a lawmaker from Spain who backed the proposal.
The vote comes just a day after a separate European call for the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling to be extended to google.com as well as the European versions of its sites … expand full story
European Union Stories November 21, 2014
Google’s ongoing battle with the European Union may have just taken a nasty turn. A new draft motion from the European Parliament is looking to separate the outfit’s search business from the rest of its operations. This comes after years of accusations against the company claiming that it exercises adverse practices, showcasing its own products while burying its competition.
European Union Stories November 17, 2014
Europe’s controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling, giving individuals the right to have sensitive information about them removed from search engines if it is deemed to be ‘out-dated or irrelevant,’ could extend beyond Europe following a recent court ruling.
Google has so far been removing links only from its European sites, for example google.fr in France and google.co.uk in the UK. However, a French court has now ruled that Google is required to remove links globally, and that local subsidiaries can be fined if the company fails to do so, reports the Guardian … expand full story
European Union Stories September 29, 2014
Google has long been the subject of antitrust complains and investigations in Europe, but now, some of the company’s competitors are starting to take note of its actions and step forward with their own issues. Yelp, TripAdvisor, and several other companies on Monday teamed up to launch a new website, Focus on the User, on which they express concerns regarding Google’s tendency to promote its own services at the expensive of its rivals. Which in turn, the companies argue, make it harder for customers to find Google’s competitors in results.
European Union Stories September 26, 2014
Google has come under fire from European Union officials on a number of fronts already. It’s been accused of unfair search results, been criticized for the way it has implemented the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling and asked to stop describing apps which offer in-app purchases as ‘free.’
Reuters now reports that the EU believes Google is breaking the law in combining user data across unrelated services like Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps without offering users an opt-out, and the way in which it has consolidated 60 separate privacy policies into one … expand full story
European Union Stories August 27, 2014
Just under a month ago Google shared a list of cities where it would host public meetings for the Advisory Council to Google on the Right to be Forgotten following the European Union Court of Justice decision in May that individuals have the right to request Google remove information from its search results. With the first of those public meetings scheduled for September 9th in Madrid, Google is today starting free online registration to attend the meeting.
A limited number of seats will be available for members of the public at each Council meeting. We’re opening up the online registration process today — and you can sign up for the Madrid meeting and the Rome meeting. Registration will remain open until five days before the event. There is no charge to attend.
European Union Stories July 31, 2014
Much discussion on Internet policy has been prompted since the European Union Court of Justice ruled in May of this year that it is an individual’s right to request Google remove sensitive information from search results. Since the ruling on the Right to be Forgotten, as it is often called, Google has established a web page dedicated to taking such requests and begun removing data from its search results as requested although that hasn’t been without further complaints from EU regulators.
For its part, Google has shared its criteria for information removal and announced an the establishment of an advisory panel of experts for fielding concerns throughout this fall over the policy and its implementation. Today the search giant has shared the dates and cities of when that advisory panel will host in-person public discussion on the right to be forgotten. Check below for the specifics: expand full story
European Union Stories July 30, 2014
And so the saga continues … In the short time since the EU ruled that individuals have the right to be forgotten when sensitive information found in search results is considered “outdated or irrelevant,” we’ve seen what is probably best described as the makings of a damn good sitcom. (Note to networks: if you make it, I want my ten percent.)
We first had the amusement of deleted links being reported by the media, bringing the stories back into the limelight. We then had Google describing the impossible position in which it has been placed, being asked to make “difficult and debatable judgements” based on “very vague and subjective tests.”
This was followed by the EU rapping Google’s knuckles for doing it wrong, and we now have a bipartisan British governmental committee disagreeing with the EU and agreeing with Google that it is being asked to “enforce the impossible” … expand full story
European Union Stories July 24, 2014
The mess and uncertainty created by an European court ruling that individuals have a ‘right to be forgotten‘ by search-engines when sensitive information is deemed to be “outdated or irrelevant” just got worse. Regulators are meeting with Google today to express concerns about the way in which Google has chosen to implement the ruling, reports Business Insider.
Under particular scrutiny is Google’s decision to only remove results from its European search engines, such as google.co.uk, meaning anyone can easily access the hidden information by switching to the widely used google.com […]
Another issue likely to be raised by the EU watchdogs is Google’s decision to notify the owners of the websites that have been removed from search results …
European Union Stories July 18, 2014
Following pressure from the European Commission, Google has announced that it is making changes to how it brands and advertises apps with in-app purchases on the Play Store. This comes after the EU accusing Apple of taking too long to change its in-app purchase policy.
Google says that it will no longer use the word “free” when advertising games that support in-app purchases. It will also work to come up with guidelines for games and developers to prevent them from encouraging children to buy items using in-app purchases. Finally, Google will also implement measures to monitor for breaches of European Union Law. Google plans to implement all of these changes starting at the end of September.
Meanwhile, the EU criticized Apple and said that it has “regrettably” not provided any changes or a timetable for changes to change their “misleading” in-app purchase measures.
European Union Stories July 11, 2014
Google’s chief legal officer David Drummond has revealed in a Guardian comment piece some of the criteria the company is using to decide whether or not to act on ‘right to be forgotten‘ requests, and says that it is creating an independent advisory council to assist it in making these decisions.
[The criteria] include whether the information relates to a politician, celebrity or other public figure; if the material comes from a reputable news source, and how recent it is; whether it involves political speech; questions of professional conduct that might be relevant to consumers; the involvement of criminal convictions that are not yet “spent”; and if the information is being published by a government …