Google vs. the EU Over Antitrust
$2.8 Billion fine is not just a slap on the wrist
If in the U.S. the technology giants are basically unregulated (including their AI systems), in some other parts of the world things are heating up.
Not much American news coverage on this. In early November, 2021 Google lost an important antitrust battle with the EU as the court upheld its 2017 order to pay $2.8 billion fine.
In a warning to American and Chinese companies, the European Commission has given its clearest signal yet that it’s prepared to intervene over weak enforcement of the EU’s data protection rules against big tech.
This is not the first time that the EU’s General Court has ruled on an antirust case brought by the European Commission and directed at a tech giant and it won’t be the last with the way Big Tech is going.
Even as AI is abused today and for the past decade both the EU and China are slowly taking regulation a bit more seriously. As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes increasingly embedded in the fabric of business and our everyday lives, both corporations and consumer-advocacy groups have lobbied for clearer rules to ensure that it is used fairly.
Artificial Intelligence is not on Pace to be Regulated Adequately in the 2020s
In May, 2021 the European Union became the first governmental body in the world to issue a comprehensive response in the form of draft regulations aimed specifically at the development and use of AI.
The European Union’s proposed artificial intelligence (AI) regulation, released on April 21, is a direct challenge to Silicon Valley’s common view that law should leave emerging technology alone. The problem is Silicon Valley is failing to even regulate their platforms appropriately or properly.
The proposed regulations would apply to any AI system used or providing outputs within the European Union, signaling implications for organizations around the world. China is also heading in that direction, conflicting with the AI colonialism of the American version of Surveillance Capitalism.
The European Union is currently discussing how to toughen its rulebook to ensure fairer competition across the 27 member nations. For a long time Ad-tech giants have been abusing their dominance. The EU is warning the adtech giants Google and Facebook — accusing them of choosing “legal tricks” over true compliance with the EU’s standard of “privacy by design” — and emphasizing the imperative for them to take data protection “seriously”.
The regulation of AI and tech platforms is a serious issue as the Metaverse rhetoric has started. AI presents tremendous opportunity for advancements in technology and society. However as it moves more to our financial, health and mental health data, it becomes more dangerous if abused. For companies to continue to innovate with AI at the pace required to remain competitive and reap the greatest return on their AI investments, they need to address the technology’s risks.
Ireland, Australia and China in the Spotlight
Specific nations like Ireland and Australia have come to the forefront in recent years. The sheer number of tech giants that have converged on Ireland — wooed by low corporate tax rates (likely with the added cherry of business-friendly data oversight) — gives it an outsized role in overseeing what’s done with European’s data. The monopolies are finding ways to exploit the global system.
Although the EU regulation is not yet in force, it provides clear insight into the future of AI regulation as a whole. China is likely to end up being far more strict than the rest of the world with regards to data privacy and AI regulation, which is somewhat ironic. As American Capitalism continues its march towards a Technological Plutocracy, no other technology comparable to artificial intelligence will be misused as much at scale for profit.
When the richest firms can hire the best lawyers it’s not a game that’s gone anywhere in the courts for the most part outside of Europe. However, the recent ruling comes after the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said in 2017 that Google had favored its own comparison shopping services and fined the company 2.42 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for breaching antitrust rules. Alphabet-unit Google contested the claims using the EU’s second-highest court.
Google’s antitrust cases in the U.S. remain pending after years of chronic neglect. Google now faces several antitrust challenges around the world, including three government lawsuits filed in the U.S. in late 2020. Scrutiny of Google has long preceded these cases, with the European Commission cracking down on the search giant well before U.S. regulators caught up.
The Commission has already levied billions of dollars in fines against Google in three separate competition cases, which Google has appealed.
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