How India, US, EU and others are challenging Big Tech’s hegemony

How India, US, EU and others are challenging Big Tech’s hegemony

Search engine giant Google has suffered a series of setbacks in different parts of the world, triggering a debate on the regulation of Big Tech giants. Be it the United States, European Union, Indonesia, South Korea or Mexico, the clamours for putting an end to Big Tech monopoly have grown louder. India introduced the Information Technology Rules last year, calling it a move to safeguard digital space.

Union minister of electronics and information technology Ashwini Vaishnaw recently said rapid work was underway to make social media accountable. The minister told ANI that social media accountability is now a valid question globally and will first start with self-regulation, then industry regulation and will be followed by government regulation.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the minister of state for electronics and information technology, has been calling for India to lead in regulating Big Tech. Last year, he along with BJP MP Jayant Sinha had written a column in HT, had said the internet once a promised land of free and open interactions for all, is now controlled by a few gigantic technology companies including Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Microsoft, Paypal and others. While calling for regulation of the Big Tech, both the leaders had called for harmonising regulatory framework with the US and the European Union.

The Competition Commission of India has said that the distortions in digital market need to be corrected promptly. “With control over used data and online real estate, the digital platforms are in a unique position to shape and influence consumer choices on one hand and steer consumer traffic to their businesses to the other”, PTI quoted CCI chairperson Ashok Kumar Gupta.

In US, an appeals court has upheld a Texas law that barred large social media companies from banning or censoring users based on their viewpoint, Reuters reported on Friday.

“Today we reject the idea that corporations have a freewheeling First Amendment right to censor what people say,” Judge Andrew Oldham, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the ruling.

On September 9, the US Department of Justice told a federal court that Google pays billions of dollars each year to other tech giants like Apple and Samsung to illegally maintain its position as the number one search engine, Bloomberg reported.

Google also suffered a setback in Europe where the European Court of Justice’s General Court confirmed a 2018 decision of European Union’s anti-trust regulators to impose a fine of more than 4 billion dollars on the search engine giant over anti-competitive practices.

In Indonesia, Google is facing a similar probe over its insistence that its payment system be used for purchases from its Play Store, AFP reported. The Indonesian authorities suspected Google abused its dominant position by imposing conditional sales and discriminatory practices in digital application distribution in the country.

South Korea has imposed tens of millions of dollars in fines on Google and Meta for alleged privacy law violations. The country’s Personal Information Protection Commission said the firms did not clearly inform the service users and obtain their prior consent while collecting and analysing behavioural information to use them for customised advertisements. The Google has rejected the findings of the South Korean privacy panel’s findings.

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