TECH TALK: BILL MAGEE says big tech may be on the regulatory ropes, but don’t count against a fightback
Big Tech’s usual suspects have had their own way for years as an unstoppable digital force. But now they’re having to counter a threat to their long-enjoyed global monopoly. Time for a reboot of the internet and mobile world as we know it.
The elite band have already scooped up trillions in revenues from each and every one of us. Now they’re spending heavily on the next monopolistic opportunity, viewing the nascent metaverse of augmented and virtual realities, integrated heavily with social media, as a timely launchpad to soften the effect of what amounts to a regulatory watershed moment.
Google’s parent company, Alphabet has just lost its appeal against a record antitrust fine of £3.55 billion imposed by the European Union. The planet’s most popular search engine has been penalised for allegedly putting strategic restrictions on Android phones to thwart rivals.
The EU General Court largely confirmed the Commission’s decision that Google imposed constraints on manufacturers of the mobile device and network operators.
It represents the second court defeat for Google. It lost a challenge to a £2.1 billion fine last year over breaking competition rules. Its dominant position in the marketplace is under threat.
Reuters maintains this latest blow may encourage other regulators to ratchet up pressure on Big Tech. Google says it is disappointed by the latest appeal decision.
It claims Android creates more choice for everyone, not less, and supports thousands of successful businesses in Europe and around the world.
The EU action comes as a group of influential companies are calling on the US Congress to pass a bill shrinking the powers of mostly American headquartered IT heavyweights.
If the legislation advances it would have costly implications for tech giants such as Apple and Samsung whom, it’s claimed, are paid billions by Google to ensure its domination.
Back here and backing up the latest massive fine is Europe’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA). It’s being opposed by – you guessed it – Google and Apple, with Amazon and Twitter taking similar stances.
Apple claims the act will create unnecessary privacy and security vulnerabilities for its users and prohibit it from charging for intellectual property in which it invests heavily.
The iPhone maker further claims this will hurt ambitious companies, irrespective of size, who rely heavily on essential tech developments.
Nicolas Petit, professor at the European University Institute, claims the latest judgement against Google strengthens the hand of the Commission to enforce rapid compliance with digital regulation under the DMA.
The UK has its own online safety bill going through the Houses of Parliament, although it’s anyone’s guess what Prime Minister Liz Truss and her new culture minister will do with it.
New Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is Michelle Donelan who used to look after marketing for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in the States before entering politics.
There are worries the new Digital Markets Unit (DMU) will lack real powers to impose fines on any tech leviathan viewed as being a law breaker.
Big Tech groups are not hanging around waiting to see what regulators do next and are planning their own future.
They have combined to help form an “industry standards body” to foster development, on their own terms, towards building the emerging metaverse concept.
An idea of scale of intent? Meta expects to spend £8.75 billion this year on research and development on virtual reality and augmented reality technologies, according to euronews.net.
Other IT giants are committing similar sums to respective R&D initiatives. It appears a follow up Big Tech global monopoly plan-of -action is on the digital horizon.